Jaswant Singh frontrunner as NDA nominee for VP

New Delhi/Chennai: With JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav appearing to be undecided, BJP veteran Jaswant Singh has emerged as the frontrunner as the NDA candidate for Vice President`s election next month. Sources in the BJP said here today that Yadav appears to be not too keen as the numbers are stacked heavily in favour of UPA nominee Hamid Ansari.

Some BJP leaders had reportedly met Yadav and urged him to become a Vice Presidential candidate to put up a serious fight. Yadav, however, downplayed reports about NDA considering his candidature for the Constitutional post, saying he would not like to comment on speculation. The sources said BJP will have to fall back upon Singh as he had evinced interest in contesting the August 7 poll. The name of Najma Heptullah as a possible candidate is also doing the rounds as she too had expressed interest in contesting the poll. She had fought the VP election against Ansari in 2007.

The NDA will take a final call on the issue in its meeting here tomorrow morning. While the main opposition had indicated that it will not give a walkover to Congress in the Vice-presidential poll, its reservations regarding Ansari since his conduct during the Lokpal Bill debate in Rajya Sabha on December 29, 2011, further contributed to the party`s decision to contest the election, sources said.

Meanwhile, former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi today put a lid over speculation about his entry into the Vice Presidential race. "I have thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for having thought of me and suggested to the UPA partners my name for the Vice-Presidential election," he said in Chennai. Asked whether any other leader had requested him to enter the fray, Gandhi told PTI, "Some people approached me, but I said thank you. I will not (contest)." He said he had also congratulated Ansari on Saturday after his name was announced by the UPA.

With the UPA, SP and BSP backing the candidature of 75-year-old Ansari, a career diplomat, his second term in the high office is a certainty. JD(U), which has supported UPA`s presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, today gave broad indication that it would go with BJP`s decision for a contest in Vice Presidential election. "The issue of Vice President election and Pranab Mukherjee are separate. I have never supported Congress` political line since I joined politics. We have supported Mukherjee for his political experience only," Yadav told reporters.