Pranab Mukherjee participating in a puja ceremony at his ancestral home in Mirati, near Bolpur, Birbhum in 2009. Back then, Mukherjee was the Union finance minister in the United Progressive Alliance government. HT file photo
Pranab Mukherjee will resign as Union finance minister on Sunday ahead of filing nomination papers for the Presidential election for which he made a veiled appeal to defiant ally Trinamool Congress for support.
Prior to his resignation as the minister after two years in office, Mukherjee, the UPA nominee, toured Kolkata and some other places of his home state.
"This is my last visit to Kolkata as the finance minister because I am going to demit my office on (June) 26th," he said on Saturday before leaving for his ancestral home in Birbhum.
"After that I will not be able to speak anything either on government or on party matters," he said.
77-year-old Mukherjee was made finance minister after UPA-II came to power in May 2009. Earlier in UPA-I, the veteran Congress leader held the portfolios of defence and external affairs.
Sources earlier said that Mukherjee is expected to file his nomination papers for the Presidential election on June 28. Four sets of nomination papers, each having 50 proposers and seconders, are being readied for him.
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata, Mukherjee made a veiled appeal for support to Trinamool Congress, which broke ranks with the UPA over the issue and has not committed its backing to him.
"Except for one partner all UPA allies have supported my candidature. Non-UPA partners like Samjawadi Party, BSP, besides other parties like CPI(M), AIFB, JD(U), 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," he said.
Trinamool Congress is yet to decide on supporting any presidential candidate after APJ Abdul Kalam, whom it had backed, declined to contest.
Asked about his feelings, Mukherjee said he was going to his village home with nostalgia.
"I am steeped in nostalgia. I was brought up in my village. I am basically a village boy. Whenever I find time, I would go to the village house," he said.
As per the support committed by UPA and other parties, Mukherjee is likely to get at least 6.38 lakh votes in the electoral college of 10.98 lakh votes. His rival PA Sangma is expected to garner only 3.12 lakh votes, way below the required number of 5,49,442.
In New Delhi, Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed hoped that Mukherjee's visit to Bengal before filing his nomination will send a right message.
"We do hope that a right message will go through this visit. Before filing nomination, Mukherjee seeking the blessings of the people of West Bengal is significant," Ahmed, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, said.
Ahmed said that it is a matter of pride for West Bengal that for the first time, a leader from the state will adorn the highest office of the land.
Asked whether the AICC would give any advice to Mukherjee on meeting TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to seek support for his candidature, he said Mukherjee is a senior leader of the party who does not need any advice.