Prez polls: Sangma appeals to political parties

New Delhi: NCP leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, who is being backed by BJD and AIADMK for the President`s post, today sought to reach out to political parties, saying he hoped they will respond "to the call of conscience of the tribal people of the nation."

Sangma, who met BJD chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here along with some tribal MPs, claimed he has the support of the tribal leaders across the parties who are "fighting a common cause of projecting a tribal as a presidential candidate."

"We hope that other political groups including UPA and NDA will respond to the call of conscience of the nation by the tribal people and support us in the coming presidential election," he told reporters here flanked by Patnaik.

Asked if he is in touch with other political parties to garner support for Sangma, Patnaik said it was their duty to bring all political parties onboard on the issue of supporting the former Speaker.

"I think it is obvious my colleague Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and I… of course we will be speaking to our colleagues who are many. It is our duty to gather together the political parties of the country (for supporting Sangma)…There has been a very encouraging response. I am sure my colleague in Tamil Nadu will echo my views," he said.

Both Patnaik and Jayalalithaa had announced their backing for Sangma on May 17, injecting a new element in the presidential race. Observing that Sangma was by far the "best" Presidential candidate, Patnaik said, "Indeed it is time that a distinguished tribal leader should be the Rashtrapati."

When asked if he has spoken to BJP on the issue, Patnaik remained evasive, saying the issue is not about politics but to elect for the first time a tribal leader as the President. "Time will tell, I have spoken, she (Jayalalithaa) has spoken, we are regional parties… This is the election of Rashtrapati… This is not political, this is to bring to the seat for the first time a great tribal leader," he said. Sangma thanked both Patnaik and Jayalalithaa for backing him for Presidential poll.