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UPA announces Pranab Mukherjee as Prez candidate

June 15, 2012 - New Delhi

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was authorized by the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to decide on the presidential candidate, on Friday evening announced Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the ruling alliance's choice for the coveted post of President of India

Gandhi had over the past few days held consultations with senior leaders and allies to zero in on a consensus for the presidential candidate.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, earlier today met senior Congress colleagues, including Pranab Mukherjee, to discuss the presidential poll issue ahead of the UPA meeting.

Besides Mukherjee, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal were also present in the meeting.

The Congress Core Group, which met at the residence of the Prime Minister here on Thursday, is believed to have decided to put forward Pranab Mukherjee's name for the coveted post.

The latest development comes a day after West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee warned the Centre, and indirectly hinted at toppling the government.

"We want to be in the UPA. If they don't want us in the government, that choice is with the Congress," she told media here after meeting Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Banerjee also said Dr. A.P.J. Kalam was her first choice for the president's post.

"Our formidable candidate is Kalam. They rejected the name of other candidates. So now Kalam is our candidate. We will be very happy if Kalam contest the elections and he will win the elections," said Banerjee.

"Every party should support Kalam. It should have nothing to do with politics. It is good if there is consensus. If there were no consensus, then we would appeal to electorates to vote according to their conscience. I have no information about it," she added, while urging the leaders of various other political outfits to back Kalam's candidature.

Both Mamata and Mulayam had on Wednesday evening announced the names of former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their preferred choices for the July 19 presidential poll. The two leaders also rejected the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari as suggested by Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress had earlier ruled out the Prime Minister's name as a Presidential candidate.

Trinamool Congress, with 19 members in the Lok Sabha, is the largest constituent of UPA after the Congress. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party, which has 22 members in the Lok Sabha, is an outside supporter of the ruling alliance.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil's term ends on July 24.


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