Pranab Mukherjee in Bhopal on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, July 11: The BJP is hoping Mamata Banerjee will put up a Vice-President candidate it can piggyback on to rock the UPA boat.
BJP leaders today appeared to back the names of Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Krishna Bose reportedly proposed by Mamata. They said they would like to wait and watch if the Trinamul chief fields any of them against the UPA’s likely nominee, Hamid Ansari.
“Both Gopal Gandhi and Krishna Bose are very good candidates. I don’t think we have any problem with them. But we have to see whether Mamata can get one of them to contest,” a BJP leader said.
It appears the BJP will not allow the Vice-President post to go uncontested. It aims to use the elections for President and Vice-President to win over new allies ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. It is likely that the party will consult chief ministers Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik before finalising a strategy.
“We can definitely contest. Why should we give a walkover to the Congress? But the strategy is yet to be finalised,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
As in the President polls, the BJP is not likely to put up its own candidate for Vice-President because the numbers are stacked against it. So, it is looking for a candidate from an NDA ally or a non-Congress candidate.
The political positioning on the Vice-President election seems to be following the course of the presidential one. Cracks in the UPA and the NDA seem similar.
Ally Trinamul appears determined to lock horns with the Congress if Ansari is fielded again. Within the NDA, a key partner, Janata Dal (United), is hinting at breaking ranks with the BJP by preferring Ansari.
The BJP is set to exploit Mamata’s opposition to the Congress’s vice-presidential candidate despite being told that she would not like to associate with that party given her dependence on the Muslim vote base in Bengal.
The CPM, too, appears eager to widen the Congress-Trinamul wedge. “Last time we had proposed Ansari’s name as Vice-President. If his name comes this time too, we don’t think there would be any problem,” Sitaram Yechury said.