The Trinamool Congress (TMC) will vote for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in Thursday’s presidential election, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced yesterday.
Terming the decision to support Mukherjee as a sad and tough one, Banerjee said her party tilted in former finance minister’s favour as TMC was not willing to waste its votes.
“We have decided to support Pranab Mukherjee keeping in mind the alliance we have,” Banerjee said after a meeting with her parliamentary and legislature leaders.
The chief minister said she had informed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the decision. “I told him you would be happy to know we have decided to vote for Pranab Mukherjee.”
She added, “It is our unanimous decision. In the interest of the people, democracy ... we have decided to vote for him. Taking the decision was tough. Had (former president) APJ Kalam agreed to be in the race, we would have supported him. Nobody forced my hand. I have not taken my decision by bowing down to any pressure.”
Banerjee had earlier snubbed Mukherjee by rooting for Kalam, who declined to contest. “We have not taken this decision from the core of our heart. Keeping in mind the people of this state and the constraints of the alliance we have decided to support Pranab.
“If we had taken it from our hearts then we would have laughed out while announcing our decision. It is a decision driven by our commitment towards democracy, people,” she said.
‘I don’t know why’
Banerjee became emotional during the press conference as she stated that she didn’t have any talk with Mukherjee for the last eight months.
“I don’t know what happened but we have not spoken with each other for last eight months. The prime minister calls me up frequently; we do have conversations. I do have contacts with Sonia Gandhi. But I didn’t have any conversations with Pranabda. I don’t know why,” she said.
Not in the race
Meanwhile, Banerjee also announced that her party would not contest the vice-presidential poll and instead consider Manmohan Singh’s plea to support Hamid Ansari for the post.
“The issue of vice president will be decided later on, as there is still time. We are not contesting. Krishna Bose would have been a good choice. But for the greater interest, we are not contesting. Even the prime minister requested me to support Ansariji. So we will decide it later,” Banerjee said.
Within minutes of announcement, Mukherjee gave his reaction. “I welcome her decision,” he told a television channel. He refused to say anything further.
However, Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in West Bengal, said, “We all welcome Mamatadi’s decision. We are very happy. It would not have looked good if Trinamool being an alliance partner of the UPA, would have abstained or had voted against Pranabda,” Ahmed said.
Didi praises the ‘honest economist’
Terming PM Manmohan Singh as an “honest” and “able” economist, Banerjee said he will steer the country from its current financial mess. “We all know that he is an honest man. He is an able economist. He understands the economy very well. Now let's see what happens. Because we all want something good to happen to the country,” she said.