CHENNAI: In a politically shrewd move, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa and her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik proposed the name of former Speaker of Lok Sabha, PA Sangma (66), for the highest office of the country, the President of India. While many names including that of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have been doing the rounds for the Presidentship, Jayalalithaa took the lead in setting the pace for the Presidential elections by proposing Sangma’s name. Besides, by proposing Sangma’s name, Jayalalithaa has forced all other political parties — Congress, BJP and others to take a stand on the issue — either support a tribal candidate or announce their own candidate very soon. If elected, Sangma will be the first person from a tribal community to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan in independent India.
“Following a letter I received from Sangma and his recent meeting with me in Chennai on May 15, after due consideration and consultations within the AIADMK party as well as consultation with Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, the AIADMK has decided to support the candidature of Sangma for the highest office of the Republic of India, viz. the President of India”, Jayalalithaa said in a statement here.
In Bhubaneswar, describing Sangma as a prominent tribal leader who had the experience of occupying the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, Patnaik said “I have talked to my party leaders and have spoken to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on the issue.” Patnaik said since tribals comprise a quarter of the State’s population it would be befitting to support Sangma. He said he had received a letter from the NCP leader on Wednesday and he had held consultations with leaders of the BJD before backing Sangma.