Sonia proposes Mukherjee as prez candidate; Mamata demurs
New Delhi, June 13 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who met Congress President Sonia Gandhi here on Wednesday to discuss possible candidates for president, said the Congress Party's first choice for the coveted post is Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
"I had a detailed discussion with her. Sonia Gandhi told that Pranab Mukherjee is first choice for President and the second choice is (Vice-President) Hamid Ansari," she said.
Banerjee also said that she had told Gandhi that she would go back and discuss with her Trinamool Congress colleagues and revert on the issue.
Banerjee had earlier today rubbished reports that she has been demanding for a financial package for her state in return for joining hands with the UPA over its presidential candidate.
"I am going to meet Sonia Gandhi. Our demand for three years moratorium on debt repayment should not be related to the Presidential polls. Whenever PM or Sonia Gandhi call me I go and meet them. That is the decorum of the system. Every time I come to Delhi someone plants a rumour," she told the media ahead of her meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Banerjee, who arrived here on Tuesday for consultations with Gandhi, met Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav here earlier last evening to discuss the presidential polls.
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.
The Congress has so far not named its choice for the top post. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is believed by many to be the front-runner among those vying to be the next President of India.
The cancellation of visits to Afghanistan and London by Mukherjee has fuelled speculation that the UPA would name him as its presidential candidate.
Gandhi has so far held discussions with DMK chief Karunanidhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and RLD chief Ajit Singh on the presidential candidate.
A fresh round of consultations on the issue of selection of a presidential nominee is taking place in the UPA, after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) authorised Gandhi to decide on the candidates for the coming presidential and vice presidential elections.
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath had on Tuesday announced the schedule for the 14th indirect presidential election to elect the 13th President of India.
Sampath said the notification for the presidential poll would be announced on June 16. He further declared that June 30 would be the last day for the filing of the nomination by candidates for the presidential election.
Sampath said that July 2 has been fixed as the day for scrutiny of all nominations, while July 4 would be the last date for candidates to withdraw their nominations.
The presidential poll, he said, would take place on July 19, and the result would be declared on July 22.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil will leave office on July 24. (ANI)
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