NDA puts up Najma Heptullah for vice-presidential poll
New Delhi, July. 22 (PTI): With allies Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress still staying away, the BJP-led NDA today announced Rajya Sabha's former deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah as its vice-presidential candidate making the contest a triangular fight all involving Muslim nominees.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj accused the ruling UPA of having made no moves for a consensus candidate for the August 10 election. Tomorrow is the last day for filing nominations.
The UPA-Left has named Mohammad Ansari as its nominee while the Third Front is fielding Rasheed Masood. Two Muslims have been earlier Vice Presidents-- Zakir Hussain(2nd) and M Hidayatullah (6th).
"In a democracy, the Opposition is duty-bound to give a fight if those in power do no reach out to it for a consensus candidate," Swaraj told reporters announcing the candidature of Heptullah
She, however, claimed that the move to put up Heptullah(67) was not prompted by gender or religious factors.
"She (Heptullah) is the most suitable candidate for the job. The decision to field her was solely based on merit," Swaraj said.
Although the Shiv Sena, which broke ranks with the BJP by supporting UPA-Left Presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, did not turn up for today's NDA meeting, she claimed there was unanimity in the NDA on Heptullah's candidature. She said the BJP would reach out to Shiv Sena and Trinamool to seek their support.
Heptuallah, who has a over three decade association with the Congress before leaving the party to join the BJP in 2004, was once considered close to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.