The Election Commission yesterday announced that the presidential election would be held July 19, setting the ball rolling for the process to decide on who would be the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
All eyes are now on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee today, after which the final call on the ruling UPA’s candidate would be taken.
According to reports, Gandhi had personally called up Banerjee on Monday evening and had requested her to come to Delhi for talks on presidential polls. As Gandhi has been authorised by the party’s working committee to finalise the candidate, she is in talks with the UPA allies on forming a consensus on the official candidate.
However, it is learnt that she has already decided to field the Finance Minister in the fray, and hence Pranab Mukherjee called off his Afghanistan visit after meeting Gandhi yesterday.
In a respite to Congress, reports say the TMC chief seems to have softened her stand on Mukherjee’s nomination for the presidential post. Banerjee was supposedly angry with Mukherjee for not allocating financial package to ailing West Bengal.
It is said that Banerjee is bargaining hard to get a financial package for the state in lieu of the support for UPA presidential poll nominee. Even West Bengal’s finance minister Amit Mitra had met Mukherjee on Monday to discuss the issue. However, Congress has denied of trading any help to states in lieu of the support.
Meanwhile, Gandhi has already held discussions with DMK chief Karunanidhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and RLD Chief Ajit Singh on the presidential candidate. Although SP’s Mulayam Singh has also not revealed whom he will be supporting, sources said he would back the UPA once Gandhi officially announces the name of the candidate.
Pranabda to get elected unopposed?
There are indications that if Mukherjee is fielded by the UPA, no election would take place and that he would get elected unopposed. He has very good rapport with leaders of different political parties. “I don’t see any election happening. Once UPA allies are on board for Mukherjee for president, he can emerge as a consensus candidate," said a key Congress functionary.
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