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New Delhi (IANS): The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Saturday announced that incumbent Hamid Ansari would be its candidate for Vice- Presidentís post, giving him a second term if he gets elected.
Even as Ansariís name was announced by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at a meeting of the alliance partners at the Prime Ministerís residence at 7, Race Course, the main Opposition BJP, at its core committee meeting, decided to nominate a candidate against former diplomat.
However, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) skipped the meeting. The party was upset that instead of designating Sharad Pawar as No.2 in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister gave that slot to Defence Minister A K Antony.
After S Radhakrishnan, Ansari will be the second person to become Vice-President twice, if elected. Announcing the name of Ansari as UPA candidate for the election to countryís second highest office, Gandhi said in a statement: "Mohd Hamid Ansari will complete shortly a term as Vice-President of India. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity and distinction. The UPA is honoured to nominate him as its candidate for a second term as Vice-President of India."
Before Gandhi made the announcement of Ansariís name, the Prime Minister proposed his name and sought the suggestions of the leaders of coalition partners including TMC representative and Railway Minister Mukul Roy, present at the meeting. A source in Trinamool Congress told Deccan Herald: "The Prime Minister called up Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday seeking the party's support for the UPA's Vice-Presidential candidate Hamid Ansari.-
-Our chief minister told the Prime Minister that we are going to make our partyís stand clear in two or three days- the source said
Roy, whose party had opposed the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee, UPA nominee for Presidential elections, suggested the name of former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and former MP Krishna Bose as its choice for the Vice-Presidential election scheduled to be held on August 7. Tholkappiyan of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a party from Tamil Nadu, also suggested a Christian name. Asked if the TMC will support Ansariís candidature, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who spoke to media after the meeting, said : - You have to ask them (TMC).- He, however, stressed that Roy -applauded- when Ansariís name was announced at the meeting.
Roy said: "I will convey the decision to our party leadership and we will let you know our decision soon."
After the announcement was made, the Prime Minister and the Congress chief spoke to Ansari and congratulated the former diplomat. The Prime Minister also spoke to BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj and sought support for Ansari.
He also called up Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who have -welcomed the decision".