Pranab resigns Tuesday
Pranab Mukherjee will resign as finance minister on Tuesday, ahead of filing nomination papers for next month's presidential election as the candidate of India's ruling Congress-led UPA.
"I will resign as finance minister on June 26 and from the Congress Working Committee [highest decision-making forum of the party] in a day or two," the 77-year-old veteran leader told reporters at his ancestral village in Birbhum district of West Bengal state.
He said he could have resigned earlier, but he had to look after certain matters as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was abroad.
Pranab said, "I am not yet the president, I have [only] been nominated as the presidential candidate. Though I have been nominated as a Congress leader, a president no longer belongs to any political party after being elected. He works according to the constitution."
In an apparent reference to Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, he said in Kolkata, "except for one partner, all UPA allies have supported my candidature. Non-UPA parties like Samjawadi Party and BSP, besides other parties like CPI(M), Forward Bloc, Janata Dal(U) and Shiv Sena have also supported my candidature.
"My prayer is that those who have not yet taken a decision, please support the UPA presidential candidate," Pranab said.
Trinamool Congress was yet to decide on extending its support after APJ Abdul Kalam, whom it had backed, declined to contest the polls.
The presidential election, in which Members of Parliament and state legislative assemblies are voters, is slated for July 19 and counting of votes July 22.
Sources earlier said Mukherjee was expected to file his nomination papers for the presidential election on June 28. Four sets of nomination papers, each having 50 proposers and seconders, were being prepared for him.
Main opposition BJP has supported former parliament speaker PA Sangma as Pranab's challenger for the top post. Sangma's candidature was first proposed by two key regional parties -- BJD and AIADMK.