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To work as custodian of Constitution: Pranab

Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 15, 2012
First Published: 23:40 IST(15/7/2012) | Last Updated: 00:02 IST(16/7/2012)

UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that once elected as the President, he would function as a custodian of the Constitution.

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He said this after meeting Congress legislators from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh here. He was here to seek support for the forthcoming presidential election scheduled for July 19. When asked about the fiscal health of the country, Mukherjee said he could not comment on the functioning of the government as he had resigned as the finance minister and also from the active membership of the Congress.

Talking about his role once elected as President, Mukherjee said he could advise the government and also address Parliament. "But the real power lies with the prime minister and his cabinet at the Centre and the chief minister and his cabinet in the states," he told reporters. Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who introduced him to the legislators, said, "The UPA couldn't have asked for a better candidate than Pranab da."

It was Mukherjee's last campaign meeting as he has covered the entire country seeking votes from legislators. Earlier, MLAs from Punjab, including CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, received Mukherjee at the airport. Mukherjee reached here from Jammu and Kashmir.

Mukherjee had resigned as union finance minister after he was declared the UPA's presidential candidate on June 15. An electoral college comprising members of Parliament and state legislative assemblies will elect the president.

Mukherjee met Congress MLAs from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh separately at a local hotel.
Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were also present when Mukherjee met the legislators. Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla accompanied Mukherjee. Meanwhile, there was no attempt by the UPA's presidential candidate to contact the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, allies of the NDA. "No one contacted the Punjab chief minister, he was in Lambi constituency the entire day," sources said.

Identity crisis
Talking to reporters, Mukherjee said he was facing an identity crisis after having resigned as finance minister and leaving the party. "I have worked closely with prime ministers for four decades, and these days am without a portfolio and out of active political life," he said.

Tight security
Tight security was in place in and around the hotel where Mukherjee met the Congress legislators. Business in the hotel suffered as no one except the legislators was allowed inside.

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