A meeting of the opposition National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP Sunday failed to arrive at a decision on its presidential poll candidate, even as differences within the alliance came to the fore after the Shiv Sena did not attend the meet.
However, considering the varied opinions emerging from both allies and other parties outside the alliance, the meeting authorised senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani to hold extensive talks with chief ministers of NDA-ruled states and other parties before the alliance meets again to take a decision.
NDA convenor and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Sharad Yadav told reporters after the meeting that "the allies held detailed discussions on the presidential polls and decided that Advani will talks to all stakeholders before the NDA meets again to take a decision".
He, however, said that the meeting did not discuss the vice presidential poll, which will take place later this year.
The two-hour meeting, held at Advani's residence, was attended by top NDA leaders from JD-U, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), Janata Party (JP) and the BJP.
Among those present, apart from Advani and Sharad Yadav, were BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, former union finance minister Jaswant Singh, JD-U's Shivanand Tiwari, SAD's Naresh Gujral and JP's Subramanian Swamy.
The Shiv Sena did not attend since it was reportedly upset over the NDA's failure to take a decision quickly on contesting the presidential poll.
Shiv Sena is also said to be against the NDA supporting former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma, who is being projected as a likely candidate by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa and Orissa Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance has named Pranab Mukherjee as its candidate for the July 19 poll for which nominatiosn can be filed till Jun 30.
The NDA may either decide to field its own candidate against Mukherjee or support his candidature.
It could also consider the candidature of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, proposed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, or former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma.