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Prez poll race keeps top leaders busy

With Presidential poll round the corner, meetings between different stakeholders - key political leaders and possible candidates - is gaining momentum.

delhi Updated: May 03, 2012 15:35 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji

With Presidential poll round the corner, meetings between different stakeholders - key political leaders and possible candidates - is gaining momentum.

All big parties are yet to indicate their preferences but informal meetings and trips to power centres have already begun.

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at 10 Janpath. This is the first meeting between Gandhi and a key ally leader after preparations for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential poll began. But both sides are mum on what transpired at the meeting.

The meeting also assumed significance as Pawar is the only big ally to have spelt out his preference. Last week, he said in Mumbai that the next President should have no political background.

On Tuesday, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, a key figure in the non-NDA opposition group, had a luncheon meeting with former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi in Bhubneshwar. Patnaik also met union minister Farooq Abdullah. The names of both the visitors are doing rounds as possible candidates for President/ Vice-President.

Top sources in the non-UPA camp said major parleys are also planned in the first week of May, during the CMs meeting in New Delhi on National Counter-Terror Centre. Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalitha - whose party has almost 37,000 Presidential votes - is slated to meet SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Patnaik and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

The UPA too, expects to start dialogue with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee when she arrives here on May 4 for a three-day visit. "We will decide on the candidate only after the poll date is announced," party leader and railway minister Mukul Roy said here.

Hamid Ansari - considered a frontrunner - went to Chennai, Patna and Ahmedabad during the past month on official engagements but reportedly met the respective CMs.