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Sangma breaks free of NCP

In a bid to fulfil his desire of contesting the presidential poll, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader P A Sangma finally resigned from his party that he formed with Sharad Pawar after breaking away from the Congress. The former Lok Sabha speaker cited disinclination of his party to endorse his nomination for the top post as the reason of his resignation. The tribal leader's resignation could now see a direct contest between him and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee.

The NCP, an ally of the UPA, had warned disciplinary action against Sangma if he went ahead with his candidature. The party showed no hesitation in accepting his resignation. 'We will immediately accept the resignation of Sangma,' said Pawar.

Sangma said that he had received promises of support from non-Congress parties that are part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

He took the decision to resign from the NCP after he met the Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, deferred the decision on whether it would support Sangama or not till Thursday. The senior NDA leaders, including Swamy, had met on Wednesday evening to finalise its strategy for the presidential poll.

The BJP has been in a dilemma over projecting its presidential candidate, as its ally the Shiv Sena has already expressed support for Mukherjee. Even the Janta Dal (United) has not been keen on supporting Sangma.

The former NCP leader, however, has had the backing of the AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha and the Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik. Both these chief ministers have already declared Sangma as their presidential candidate.


SANGMA MAY HAVE RESIGNED TO AVOID EXPULSION: AZAD

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma may have decided to resign from the NCP in order to avoid his expulsion for going against the party's directive not to contest the Presidential polls, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday.

'[The resignation] is his choice because the NCP leadership had already made it clear that he should not contest against the wishes of the party. Having decided that he is going to contest, I think Sangma resigned himself, may be to avoid expulsion from the party,' the Union Health Minister told reporters here.

Taking a swipe at opposition NDA over the rift in its ranks over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Azad said there was 'no vacancy' for the post of Prime Minister till 2014.

'I am surprised that everybody there is fighting that who should be the next Prime Minister. But where is the vacancy? The UPA government is going to complete its second term.

'Till two years, Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister. After that election will take place and Congress will again come in power. We will form the government. At the moment, till 2014, there is no vacancy [for the PM's post] and this exercise is totally futile,' he said.

Azad and Union Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy were in the city to highlight the ruling United Progressive Alliance's achievements on the occasion of the UPA-II government completing three years in office.


SANGMA'S EXIT WILL NOT IMPACT MEGHALAYA UNIT: NCP

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Wednesday said that the resignation of P A Sangma won't have any impact on the party in Meghalaya.

'Sangma has resigned from the primary membership of the NCP and as a legislator in his personal capacity and personal reasons and it does not have anything to do with the NCP Meghalaya unit,' Leader of Opposition and NCP legislator Conrad K Sangma said.

'One of our legislators resigned at his personal level, for his own reasons and we as a unit cannot stop anyone if they want to resign,' said Conrad Sangma, who is P A Sangma's son.

Conrad Sangma, however, said that the NCP legislators would be meeting to discuss the elder Sangma's resignation.

Meghalaya assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope said he was yet to receive the resignation letter of P A Sangma, who is a legislator in the 60-member house.

'I have not received any official communication from the NCP or Sangma,' Pyngrope told reporters.

In the 60-member assembly, the opposition NCP has 15 members while the ruling Congress, with 28 legislators, is supported by other parties and independents.


CONGRESS READY FOR CONTEST

The Congress Wednesday said contest was part of democracy and hoped that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee Pranab Mukherjee will be the next president.

The party said this soon after former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma quit his Nationalist Congress Party, a constituent of the Congress-led UPA, to fight against Mukherjee in the 19 July poll for the high office.

'Contest is part of democracy... Mukherjee is a capable person and we hope he will be the next president of the country,' Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters.

The Congress refused to comment on the rift within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on selecting its presidential nominee.

'It is an internal matter of the NDA... we will not comment on it,' said Alvi.

He said it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's jurisdiction to decide on the fate of Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma, daughter of the former Lok Sabha speaker.

The Congress also refused to be dragged into the ongoing tussle within the NDA over its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 general election.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), an NDA constituent, had expressed reservations amid indications that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party could be the alliance's candidate for the top executive post in the next Lok Sabha poll.

Nitish Kumar, in a disguised attack on Modi, said that the NDA's prime ministerial choice should be secular and acceptable to everyone.

'The JD-U has to decide whether it has to stay in the NDA or not... the NDA will decide its candidate for the prime minister's post,' Alvi told reporters.
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