| Najma Heptullah after filing her nomination on Monday. (AP)
Calcutta, July 23: Mamata Banerjee hasn’t yet taken a decision on the vice-presidential poll but is toying with the idea of supporting NDA candidate Najma Heptullah.
The Trinamul Congress had abstained from voting in the presidential election after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was denied a second term.
Mamata had staged a rally in the city to press for Kalam’s re-nomination and told an NDA meeting that the Opposition alliance should re-nominate him. But the BJP brass went for Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, which “angered’’ the Trinamul leader.
Trinamul sources said Mamata, who has shared a cordial relationship with Najma since their Congress days, was considering party colleagues’ suggestion that it would be prudent to support Najma.
“Backing her would send the right message to the minority community,” a Trinamul general secretary said.
Mamata, however, said her decision would be conveyed at an “appropriate” time.
“You must have noticed that we had taken a unanimous decision to boycott the presidential election a day before it was held. I have known Najmaji for a long time. Our decision on the Vice-President’s post would be conveyed at the appropriate time.”
A senior party MLA said: “She hasn’t taken any decision yet. But what we have understood from Mamata’s recent remarks is that she is inclined to back Najmaji.”
When the UPA and the Left had picked Patil as their presidential nominee, a “shocked” Mamata had reportedly said in private that the NDA should choose either Kalam or Najma.
| UPA-Left nominee Hamid Ansari after filing his nomination. (AP)
“Najmaji is a very senior politician and I have good relations with her. She could have been considered for the President’s post as she comes from a highly respectable family, whose contribution to the country’s freedom struggle is immense. But in the first place, we are for Kalam,” the Trinamul chief was quoted as saying by a party leader.
The “third front” candidate, Rasheed Masood, is probably not on her mind, said a party leader.
The Shiv Sena today said the NDA had neither consulted it on Najma’s nomination nor invited the party leadership to yesterday’s meeting in Delhi.
The Sena and Trinamul were absent from the meeting at A.B. Vajpayee’s residence, following which Najma’s name was announced.
A BJP source in Delhi said Sena leaders had not responded to the party’s calls. But the Sena denied the claim.
“The invitations to NDA meetings are sent to our parliamentary leader, Anant Geete, and he contacts our leadership. I am confident that Geete did not receive any such invitation,” Sanjay Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, said in Mumbai.