New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Holding parleys across the political spectrum on the presidential poll, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) core group is scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss the election and whether it should pit a candidate of its own, a party leader said.
Even though party leaders remained tight lipped on its stand, informed sources say there is a strong opinion within the BJP that they should not field a candidate against United Progressive Alliance candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
Coming a day after an inconclusive meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the meeting, at party chief Nitin Gadkari's house at 9 p.m., will frame the party's next strategy.
Sources also say that since former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam formally announced he will not be contesting, some more names may crop up.
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, in a briefing here, confirmed the meeting but refused to give any more details.
"Whatever decision will be taken, will be taken after consulting all allies. It will not be BJP's decision alone," Sitharaman said.
Kalam's decision not to contest causes a set back for BJP, which was trying hard to convince the former president. Party veteran L.K. Advani's close aide Sudheendra Kulkarni met Kalam twice over the issue, and Advani also called up the eminent scientist.
The BJP has also been discussing supporting former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, who has the support of AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal. Ally Shiv Sena is, however, against supporting Sangma.
On the other hand, Janata Dal-United, which is the second largest party in NDA after BJP, and Shironmani Akali Dal have expressed the view that a candidate should not be fielded against Mukherjee, as it will be difficult to win.
Party insiders, however, say several leaders feel not fielding a candidate will weaken the opposition party's image. BJP had announced long back, during the budget session of parliament, that it will not support any candidate of Congress.
"We are looking at the 2014 polls... not having a candidate may reflect that the BJP and NDA has surrendered," a party leader said on condition of anonymity.
The BJP is also looking forward to expanding the NDA, and sees the presidential poll as an opportunity to start moving in that direction. They are considering backing Sangma to strengthen relation with AIADMK and BJD.
At the same time, the party has also decided to try to bring Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and YSR Congress founder Jaganmohan Reddy on its side.