A day after coming out in support of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma for the office of President, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Friday urged all political parties to support his candidature for the post.
File photo of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma meeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in Chennai on May 15, 2012.
A day after coming out in support of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma for the office of President, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa today urged all political parties to support his candidature for the post.
"In continuation of my statement dated 17.5.2012 announcing the AIADMK’s support to Mr P.A. Sangma in the forthcoming Presidential election, I now appeal to all political parties to rise above political considerations and support Mr P.A. Sangma and ensure that he becomes the next President of India," she said in a statement issued in Chennai today.
The AIADMK was the second regional party, after the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha to come out in support of Mr Sangma for the august office.
Ms Jayalalithaa said in a statement yesterday that she had taken the decision following a letter received from Mr Sangma and his meeting with her in Chennai on May 15.
She also said that she had held consultations on the issue within the AIADMK as well as with BJD leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
"During the past 60 years of the Republic of India, while eminent personalities belonging to various communities and diverse walks of life have graced the office of the Rashtrapathi no one belonging to a tribal community has had the opportunity so far," Ms Jayalalithaa said in a statement.
Mr Sangma and his supporters have for some time been campaigning for a tribal to be elected as the next President of India.
She said Mr Sangma not only belonged to a tribal community but was also eminently qualified to be the President of the nation.
"As such, the AIADMK takes pride in supporting the candidature of Mr P.A. Sangma for the office of President of India," the statement had added.
Earlier yesterday, Mr Patnaik told journalists in Bhubaneswar that his party would back Mr Sangma for President and that Ms Jayalalithaa was also supporting him.
Mr Patnaik and Ms Jayalalithaa had met in Chennai on May 11, when the coming Presidential elections and related issues were understood to have been discussed.
After that, Mr Sangma and his daughter, Ms Agatha Sangma, Union Minister of State for Rural Development, had met Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai to pitch their case for a tribal candidate for the President's post.
However, Mr Sangma's own party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is a constituent of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), is yet to come out in his support. The two parties are also sharing power in Maharashtra.
NCP leader and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is understood to be of the view that, given the party's limited strength, it could not aspire for such a major post.
NCP spokesman D P Tripathi told reporters yesterday that Mr Sangma or Mr Patnaik had not discussed the matter with the party. He said Mr Pawar was clearly of the view that the President must be chosen by consensus and that, as a member of the UPA, the NCP must act with responsibility and dignity in the matter.
The Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the post, but in recent days the names of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President M Hamid Ansari have been doing the rounds as possible candidates.
The term of office of the current President, Ms Pratibha Patil, will end on July 25 this year and a successor will be elected before that date.
Mr Sangma, 64, who has taken MA and LL.B. degrees, was associated with the Congress for a long time and was eelcted to the 6th, 7th and 8th Lok Sabha. He served as Union Deputy Minister for Commerce and later as Minister of State for Commerce and Minister of State for Home Affairs. He also held independent charge of Labour as Minister of State.
Between 1988 and 1990, Mr Sangma served as Chief Minister of Meghalaya before returning to the Lok Sabha in 1991. He held independent charge of Coal and then Labour as Minister of State before being appointed Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 1995-96.
On re-election to the 11th Lok Sabha for a fifth term in 1996, he was elected Speaker of the House. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998, 1999 and 2004. He resigned from the Lok Sabha on October 10, 2005 as a member of the Trinamool Congress and came back to the House in February 2006 as an NCP candidate. He resigned from the House again on March 20, 2008.