|APJ Abdul Kalam in Delhi Meet|
MUMBAI: NCP supremo and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Sunday that he was in favour of a non-political person as the next president of India to replace pratibha patil, whose five-year term ends this July. "In my opinion, a non-political person would be the ideal choice as the next president," Pawar told mediapersons.Pawar's statement assumes political significance since the Congress is planning to field its own nominee as a presidential candidate. Although the party has not named any candidate, senior Congress leaders believe that defence minister A K Antony is emerging as a strong contender.
Pawar made it clear that the NCP had absolutely no plans to field former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma for the post. "We have only 16 MPs, we know our limitations," he said and called for a consensus candidate.
Saying it was high time parties initiated a dialogue on the ensuing presidential polls, Paw ar said since neither UPA nor NDA have the requisite votes to ensure that a candidate of their choice will be elected, political parties must sit together to arrive at a consensus nominee. "We are of the opinion that the next president should be apolitical. Since no party is in a position to get its nominee elected, all parties must agree on a common candidate," he said.
Veteran Dalit leader and power minister Sushilkumar Shinde too had thrown his hat into the ring. However, he was not considered since the present incumbent too is from Maharashtra.
A former Maharashtra chief minister said that in view of Pawar's statement, it is likely that former president Abdul Kalam may emerge as a consensus nominee for the top post. "Our information is that Mulayam Singh-led SP, AIADMK and Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress have informally agreed on the nomination of Kalam. Our constitution does not bar a candidate from recontesting the presidential elections. In view of his massive contribution in the field of nuclear science and his impressive performance as the president of India, we feel that all political parties will agree on his nomination," he said.