Pranab Congress' first choice | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 14, 2012

Indian Presidential Election

Pranab Congress' first choice

Mamata, Yadav reject choice, put forward own priorities

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Ending days of suspense, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today made it clear that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was her first choice for presidency and Vice-President Hamid Ansari was also in the reckoning.
Sonia revealed her mind to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who met her here yesterday.
The Indian Presidential poll is scheduled for July 19.
However, Mamata told mediapersons that she gave no commitment of her party Trinamool Congress' support to either Mukherjee or Ansari, saying she would convey her stand after discussions with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and her own party.
"We had detailed discussions.... Soniaji told me that she had held meetings with two-four allies and her first choice (for Presidentship) is Pranab Mukherjee and second choice is Hamid Ansari," Banerjee told reporters after her 30-minute meeting with the Congress President.
But after the meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, whose party is a key constituent of India's ruling alliance UPA, rejected congress' first choice.
In addition, both Mamata and Yadav revealed their choices for the top post.
They told reporters that they have short listed three candidates in order of priority 1. APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India, 2. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 3. former parliament speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
The Trinamool chief and Yadav are apparently coordinating their efforts to extract financial packages for West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam's son Akhilesh Yadav is Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
However, prior to her meeting with the Congress chief, Banerjee insisted that her demand for a three-year moratorium on payment of interest on loans taken from federal government was not linked to her party's support to the UPA nominee in the Presidential polls.
Banerjee said West Bengal was in a precarious situation financially due to the policies pursued by the previous Left Front government and hence she had sought a moratorium on payment of interest for three years.
She said the demand for moratorium was a year-old and not linked to the Presidential polls.
"Whatever the state earns goes in repayment of interest. It is a very precarious situation. Please don't link it with Presidential elections," Banerjee said.

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