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BJP backs Sangma, who seeks support of Trinamool, Sena and JD(U)

New Delhi, June 21 (PTI): The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday announced its support for formar Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma in the Presidential election against United Progressive Alliance candidate Pranab Mukherjee.

“BJP, as the main opposition, does not want to give a walkover to Congress because there was no prior consultation by UPA with us,” BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said.

BJP admitted the National Democratic Alliance is divided over Sangma and appealed to allies Shiv Sena and Janata Dal-United to revisit their position of not supporting Sangma.

Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, another senior BJP leader also said that the BJP was trying to bring the Trinamool Congress on board but refused to reveal how it was being done.

Soon after BJP announced its support for him, the 64-year-old former Sangma said two powerful Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu) and Naveen Patnaik (Odisha) had sponsored his candidature.

“I am not a candidate of any single party. My name has been sponsored by two powerful chief ministers of the country. I am grateful to both these leaders,” said Sangma.

“Not only BJP but other allies like Akali Dal, JMM and other smaller parties have assured their support. They have told me that they will stand by the decision of NDA,” he told reporters here

With JD(U) and Shiv Sena having taken a different stand from that of NDA, he appealed to both the parties to extend support to him.        

Asked whether Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress would support him, Sangma expressed the hope that the party will stand behind him as its first choice A P J Abdul Kalam has decided not to contest.        

“I had spoken to her earlier. She had asked me to support Kalam then. But she told me that if Kalam does not contest, then she will support me. Now that Kalam is not in the race, I hope that Mamata will support me. I am very very hopeful that Mamata will be with me,” he said.        

On whether his daughter Agatha Sangma, a Minister of State in the UPA government, will vote for him, he said as she is a mature person, she can take decisions on her own.