With no green signal yet from former president APJ Abdul Kalam if he would contest, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is under pressure to weigh her options to back PA Sangma in the presidential race against UPA’s Pranab Mukherjee.
Banerjee on Sunday called Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, among others, in a bid to convince Sangma to clear the way for Kalam. She also spoke to Sudheendra Kulkarni, a key BJP strategist.
Sources said Jayalalithaa requested Banerjee to garner more support for Sangma, who is the AIADMK and BJD’s candidate. The BJP too wants Trinamool, which has around 48,000 votes in the presidential poll, to come on board as it’s not hopeful about Kalam’s candidature.
Sangma called up Banerjee to seek her support. Even though she asked him to withdraw his candidature, he announced he was still in the race.
“I said (to Banerjee) that Kalam has opted out of the race, so you should support me," he said.
Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh said the party was waiting for Kalam to agree to its appeal to contest. “I don’t know what my party will do if he decides not to,” he said.
In her latest Facebook post after the talks with Jayalalithaa and Kulkarni, Banerjee didn’t mention Kalam’s name but asked people to “raise voices and stand by principles, conviction, values and integrity”.
She called for a fight against “backroom deal-making” – probably an indirect reference to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s flip-flop over Kalam’s candidature.
“Politics in our great nation has become murky and values and public interest have been compromised through the use of money, power and scams. This decay has to be reversed at all costs,” Banerjee wrote.