Noting that his four-decade-long involvement in party politics was coming to an end, UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee announced he will quit as finance minister on Tuesday, June 26. He also sought to reach out to the Trinamool Congress, appealing for all undecided parties to support his candidature.
“I will relieve myself of the post of finance minister on June 26. I could not take such a decision earlier because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was out of the country. I have to perform some duties in the PM’s absence,” said Mukherjee.
Mukherjee will return to Delhi today evening.
“Then I will put in my papers. I am still a Congressman and a member of its highest policy making body — the Working Committee. I will send my resignation from this post also to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. I shall then start my campaign. A big chapter in my four-decade old involvement in party politics has ended,” said the 76 year-old leader.
In an obvious reference to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituent Trinamool Congress, Mukherjee said that except one, all parties, which are partners in the Central government, have supported him. The Trinamool is yet to announce its stand on the presidential choice after its preferred candidate, former president APJ Abdul Kalam, declined to contest. However, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has so far been firmly opposing Mukherjee’s bid for the country’s presidency.
“Except one, all parties, which are partners of the government, are supporting me. Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have also supported me,” he said. Mukherjee reiterated his appeal to all undecided parties to extend their support to him for the top job. “Those who are yet to take a decision, I request them to support the UPA nominee,” said Mukherjee.
Earlier, he said he would not be in politics for a long time. “After becoming a presidential election candidate, I won’t have any party. I will not be in politics. This is a constitutional tradition.”