RIVALS HAZY ON KANT HEIR 

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By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 4.07.02
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New Delhi, July 4 :    New Delhi, July 4:  The Opposition is in complete disarray over the vice-presidential polls, scheduled for August 12, following the split over the presidential polls. There is a profound sense of dejection in the Congress, the Left and other Opposition ranks. Leaders of these groups have not held any strategy session despite the official notification. Congress leaders said they might put up Saroj Kharpade as their nominee if the BJP decided to field former Rajasthan chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Senior Left leaders were dismissive, saying "we have not thought about it (vice presidential polls) so far". Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the party wanted the Vajpayee regime to take the lead in holding negotiations with the Opposition. Jaipal said the Congress would prefer consensus to contest for the "high constitutional office" of Vice-President. Moreover, the Congress spokesman did not reject or publicly oppose Shekhawat's name. The Congress reluctance to force a contest also stems from the fact that the Opposition is in a hopeless minority in the combined strength of Parliament that elects the Vice-President. Initially, Jaipal, Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Sitaram Yechury had sent feelers to Vice-President Krishan Kant to contest as an Opposition nominee. However, Kant gave no indication on obliging them as the Telugu Desam Party declared its support for a NDA candidate for the Vice-President's post. Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani today said the NDA government would not hold any consultation with the Opposition on the vice-presidential polls. Any decision on the vice-presidential polls would be taken "within the NDA," Advani said in a television interview.