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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Mamata gets off her high horse, will back Pranab

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 17, 2012
First Published: 16:50 IST(17/7/2012) | Last Updated: 01:13 IST(18/7/2012)

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday made a dramatic turnaround, announcing that her party would support UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential polls - albeit with "a heavy heart".

Banerjee had been opposing the idea of Mukherjee becoming President even before the UPA nominated him officially. She proposed three names as her choices, instead.

The TMC chief even took the risk of alienating herself within the UPA and going against the wave of popular opinion in West Bengal to oppose Mukherjee. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/7/18_07_12-metro1.jpg

Here are some of the reasons for Banerjee's change of heart after several turns and twists the presidential poll story took since June 13, when Banerjee met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the first time on the issue:

1 TMC sources said public sentiment had been one of the reasons for the sudden change of mind. In an HT-Cfore opinion poll published on June 16, two-thirds of Kolkatans said Banerjee's stand was anti-Bengal. An overwhelming 72% of Kolkatans wanted Mukherjee as president.

2 As part of his campaign, Mukherjee wrote to Banerjee last week, seeking her support. But it was a phone call from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that tipped the scale for Mukherjee. Banerjee reportedly insisted on talking to Singh. Soon after the PM's call in the early afternoon, she made her "painful decision" public.

3 Given the financial situation of her government, her clamourous positioning against the UPA government could prove untenable. The SP, which was quick to leave her and support Mukherjee, is expected to see a 20% - or Rs.  56,000 crore- hike in its annual plan size.

Within an hour of her announcement on Tuesday, Banerjee also received a personal SMS from Gandhi, thanking the TMC chief for her support and hoping for stronger ties between the two parties.

Mukherjee, too, called her after a gap of almost eight months and thanked her.

"I am grateful that she is continuing in the UPA," Mukherjee told HT.

But Banerjee said, "I had no other option. It is a misfortune that we could not strike consensus around APJ Abdul Kalam."


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