Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's main opposition party, has welcomed Pranab Mukherjee as the new head of state, distancing itself from its (defeated) presidential candidate Purno Agitok Sangma after the latter moved to challenge the new president's election in the courts. "We would like to make it clear, if Sangma takes such a step, then it will be his personal choice. As far as the BJP and NDA are concerned [. . .], we have welcomed the election of the President of India," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said on Wednesday.
Since the start of the election process, it was clear that the BJP-Sangma pact stood on shaky grounds or that at least the two sides had little in common. The BJP is a ultranationalist Hindu party, known for its support of extremist movements that engage in religiously and ethnically based violence (for example, anti-Christian pogroms in Orissa). By contrast, Sangma is a Catholic, from a tribal background, who left the Congress party in 1998 because he was opposed to the election of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to the presidency of the party.
When looking for a candidate, the BJP saw Sangma as a way to attract voters from traditionally unfavourable constituencies, namely Tribals and minorities. For the defeated candidate, the alliance with the BJP meant another go at a place in the sun.
Despite its latest loss, the BJP has time to recover and prepare for the 2014 parliamentary elections. For Sangma, the situation is a bit more difficult since he is a politician without a party.
After leaving Congress in 1998, he founded the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which he quit after it refused to back his candidacy.
The NCP itself under co-founder Sharad Pawar has renewed with Ms Gandhi and is trying to return to the Congress.
Now, which party will want Sangma, especially since he whitewashed the BJP of any responsibility for the anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal, Orissa?