The Trinamool Congress will vote for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in Thursday's presidential election, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Tuesday.
Terming the decision to support Mukherjee as a sad and tough one, Banerjee said her party tilted in his favour as Trinamool was not willing to waste its votes.
"We have decided to support Pranab Mukherjee keeping in mind the alliance we have," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat 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 will 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) A.P.J 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 Abdul 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.
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.
With Trinamool Congress extending support to the UPA candidate in the Presidential poll, Pranab Mukherjee is likely to garner close to seven lakh vote value leaving his rival P A Sangma way behind in what appears to be a highly one-sided contest.
Mukherjee is assured of support from parties which have a vote value of around seven lakh while Sangma has around 3.15 lakh vote value in an electoral college of 10,98,882.
If all the votes are polled, one needs to get 5,49,422 vote value for a win.
Opposition-backed Sangma was always behind in the electoral arithmetic as NDA allies JD(U) and Shiv Sena broke ranks with BJP to support Mukherjee. The supporters of 77-year-old former Finance Minister include Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI-M, Forward Bloc and JD-S among others. With the support of SP (66,688 vote value), BSP (45,473), JD-U (40,737), Shiv Sena (18,495), JD-S (6,138) and CPI-M and Forward Bloc (around 41,000), Mukherjee can expect vote share of about seven lakh.
The number game was not in Sangma's favour as NDA strength has been reduced to 2.43 lakh after JD-U and Shiv Sena extended support to his rival. However, with AIADMK (36,920 vote value) and BJD (30,125) backing, his votes will rise to 3.10 lakh.
The electoral college for the July 19 poll comprises 4,896 members -- 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs -- who have a vote value of 10.98 lakh. If all the votes are polled, a candidate who gets more than 5,49,442 votes will be declared winner.
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