Kalam’s name crops up for Prez candidate

NEW DELHI, Apr 23: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s remarks favouring a person with “not too much” of a political mind for the President’s post has stirred the pot with parties, including the Congress, chanting the mantra of a consensus candidate in the upcoming Presidential Polls.
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam’s name cropped up in the discussions today with Samajwadi Party saying it was “not averse” to his candidature while others remained ambivalent.
Pawar, leader of the NCP and one of the important constituents of the UPA, clarified this morning that he had only talked about an “agreed” candidate and not a non- political person for the post.
“I have not said this. I have spoken about agreed candidate,” Pawar told reporters when asked to comment on his yesterday’s reported remarks of a “non-political” candidate for the post of the President.
He insisted that neither the UPA nor the NDA has the numbers and, therefore, a process of consultation was necessary.
“I am sure leadership concerned will start the process. We need to think about agreed candidature at this moment,” he said.
Pawar’s remarks triggered instant reaction with two senior Ministers Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that they were working towards a consensus.
Azad, a member of the GoM on Media, told reporters that the office of President is big and no political party has a majority to get its candidate elected. “If the President is elected, it will be through consensus. In a democracy, every group has a right to express its opinion about an individual or a leader,” he said.
Asked about Pawar’s remarks, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, also a member of the GoM, said “We have been working towards a consensus.”
On questions about second term for Kalam, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury refused to go into issue, merely saying Kalam is a respected personality.
“We respect him…It was nice to have had Kalam (as President). I don’t have the authority to say anything more than this,” she said.
Former MP and SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said if there is a consensus his party was not averse to Kalam’s name. He recalled that it was his party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who proposed Kalam’s name for Presidency in 2002.
He said his party was also talking to other parties and considering some other names.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said there has been no discussion either in his party or within the NDA about the Presidential elections. The UPA has also not initiated any moves, he said.
DMK spokesperson T K S Elangovan said the President’s post needs some political knowledge and legal expertise. “That does not mean that he should be too political,” he said.
CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury said there have been non- political persons who have occupied the office as well as political personalities.
He said anybody who becomes President should have political knowledge. (PTI)