With a section of the NDA and Left parties tilting towards Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA is eyeing a record victory margin for its candidate in the presidential poll.
According to the UPA’s internal calculations, the BJP-supported PA Sangma can — at best — get 33% votes, while Mukherjee would comfortably secure more than 60% votes in the 10,98,882-strong electoral college.
Top Congress managers, including Mukherjee, huddled in a stock-taking meeting at 15 Gurdwara Rakabganj Road — popularly known as the Congress ‘war room’ — to chart the ruling dispensation's strategy for getting more support, cutting across party lines.
Meanwhile, a new letterhead — referring to Mukherjee as the ‘presidential candidate’ — has been ordered for him. Significantly, the veteran leader has decided to highlight his Kolkata address as his permanent one on it. This move comes in the backdrop of the UPA’s biggest ally, the Trinamool Congress, questioning his association with Bengal.
Meanwhile, the UPA is reaching out to smaller opposition parties to garner support for its candidate. Sources said Mukherjee has already spoken to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti in this regard. Suspended BJD leader Pyarimohan Mahapatra, who was also contacted, reportedly assured Mukherjee the votes of his loyalist MLAs. Several disgruntled Trinamool MPs were also said to be in touch with the Congress, sources said. Mukherjee, who is leaving for Kolkata on Friday, will spend the next two days in Bengal. No meeting has been scheduled between him and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, but a section of the party is hopeful that he may take the initiative to thaw souring relations.