|United National Progressive Alliance will put up its own candidate for Vice-President|
UNPA has votes valued at over one lakh
NDA to seek clarification on abstaining from voting
Tough stand: Leaders of the United National Progressive Alliance Chandrababu Naidu. Jayalalithaa, Mulayam Singh and Om Prakash Chauthala before their meeting on the elections to the posts of President and Vice-President, in New Delhi on Saturday. The Third Front leaders unanimously decided to abstain from voting in the July 19 Presidential polls. It also decided to field its own candidate for the Vice-Presidential election.
NEW DELHI: The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) is firm on abstaining from voting in the July 19 Presidential election and has decided to put up its own candidate for Vice-President “to maintain its identity.”
The alliance will seek the support of the Left parties for their Vice-Presidential nominee or go along with them on condition that they withdraw support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre.
It will, however, maintain distance from the UPA and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Vice-Presidential elections as well.
After a nearly three hour-long meeting of the UNPA leaders here, the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Jayalalithaa said at a joint press conference: “We had already declared that we will not back a candidate supported by the UPA or the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). There is no change in that decision. The UNPA will abstain from voting.”
She said they had taken legal opinion on this position and were advised that there was no legal bar on abstaining from voting in the Presidential election.
The UNPA has votes roughly valued at over one lakh in the 10.98-lakh vote electoral college.
Quick to respond, the NDA-supported independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s spokesperson Sushma Swaraj told The Hindu that a clarification would be sought from the Election Commission whether abstaining from voting wou ld amount to issuing a whip.
“The Election Commission should clarify whether those who want to vote can do so without hindrance or would such a decision by a party amount to issuance of whip.”
On the Vice-Presidential election to be held in August, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that the UNPA would put up its own candidate whose name would be announced later.
“The UNPA has taken a conscious decision not to back a UPA or NDA-backed candidate. We cannot have a different yardstick for the Vice-Presidential election.”
The UNPA leaders said they would not seek NDA support for their Vice-Presidential nominee — as they had sought for President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam — despite knowing that their candidate would not win (on his/her own). “But we will register our vote and our identity.”
Asked whether they would support a Left candidate in the Vice-Presidential election, the UNPA leaders said similar to the “compulsion” of the Left parties to go along with the Congress-led UPA’s candidate, they too could not go along with them if they remained with the UPA.
Replying to a question, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh said there was no division among the UNPA leaders on their stand on the Presidential as well as Vice-Presidential elections.
The “conscious” decisions of the UNPA are significant coming as they do in the wake of CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat’s meeting with Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday and BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s parleys with Ms. Jayalalithaa.
Mr. Naidu denied that Mr. Karat had sought support for the nomination of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as a Vice-Presidential candidate. Ms. Jayalalithaa said she discussed the political situation with Mr. Singh when he called on her on Friday in New Delhi. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah had joined them later. She denied that Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who was also in Delhi, had met her.
Samajwadi Party general secretary and spokesman Amar Singh alleged that the Union Finance Ministry was targeting Ms. Jayalalithaa by freezing her bank accounts. He also charged the UPA Government with attempts to frame Mr. Mulayam Singh in a CBI matter.
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