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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Don't speculate on presidential poll: Pranab

Agencies  New Delhi, April 30, 2012
First Published: 14:11 IST(30/4/2012) | Last Updated: 15:27 IST(3/5/2012)

As the Congress is holding a series of meetings with allies to build consensus over the next president, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday cautioned against speculating on the issue.

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"Don't indulge in speculations," Mukherjee said in response to media queries in the Parliament complex.

Names of Mukherjee, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar are among those making rounds as possible candidates for the next president.

The Congress has held meetings with allies Nationalist Congress Party and DMK over the issue, while a meeting with the Trinamool Congress is on the anvil.

Consultations within the ruling UPA on picking the country’s next President entered a decisive phase on Sunday, with senior Congress leader and defence minister AK Antony meeting DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai.

Antony’s visit surprised political observers, considering that Mukherjee is usually assigned such tasks by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. However, Antony described his meeting with Karunanidhi as “fruitful”.

Antony’s meeting with Karunanidhi came close on the heels of agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar holding consultations with the Congress president. Pawar is understood to have impressed upon her the need for a consensus on the choice for the top post.

A meeting between Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Gandhi is also expected soon. Later, she and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may meet SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.

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