Sushma articulated view of BJP not of NDA

New Delhi: Snubbed by its NDA ally Janata Dal (U) for unilaterally expressing its stand on Presidential elections, BJP today said the views expressed by its leader Sushma Swaraj were those of the party and not of the alliance led by it. BJP maintained no discussions had yet taken place with other NDA allies or "the larger opposition" on the issue.

"What Sushma Swaraj had said was from the party platform and not the NDA view", BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters here. "Sharad Yadav (JD-U chief) was answering a question. He was categorical in saying that the issue has not been discussed in the NDA forum. Swaraj said the same thing," he said.

Asked about the reported rift with JD(U), Rudy said "there is no rift with JD(U). It is mere speculation." Rudy said a discussion with NDA allies as well as the "larger opposition" is yet to take place. Sushma Swaraj had only said that BJP will accept a candidate for President which is chosen by the opposition. "Here she was talking about the larger opposition, including the NDA," according to Rudy.

Rudy said the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha had maintained that she would be happy if there is a consensus with the larger opposition where the latter put up their candidate for President while the BJP candidate for Vice-President is accepted by them. BJP maintained that several names were doing the rounds for President`s post and hence "we should wait for the things to freeze down".

Rudy said Swaraj was categorical that there would be no agreement with Congress on accepting their presidential candidate in return for their support to a vice-presidential candidate of BJP. Echoing these views, another party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said BJP will have no deal with Congress on the issue of Presidential elections. He said NDA would meet soon to discuss the issue and then reach out to the larger opposition.

In reply to a question, Hussain said "our position is not such that our candidate (for President) can win." He clarified Swaraj`s comments about Vice President Hamid Ansari not having the stature to become President was in the context of a non-political person having excellence in a particular field occupying the highest office.

However, BJP sources maintain that the party is unhappy with Ansari after his role in Rajya Sabha during the Lokpal Bill debate on December 29 when he had "abruptly" adjourned the House without putting the Bill to vote. On the candidature of A P J Abdul Kalam, Hussain said Swaraj had stated that he was acceptable to BJP as a candidate if Samajwadi Party proposes his name.