Senior leaders of the Congress-led UPA have begun their meeting in New Delhi to decide their presidential candidate. The Congress wants to nominate finance minister Pranab Mukherjee as its candidate but its ally the Trinamool Congress has rejected him. It is lobbying with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav to support Mukherjee. TV channels report Congress will decide its candidate by this evening.
Throughout Friday, all political parties were busy discussing candidates for Presidential polls keeping in mind all political equations. Twists and turns were seen as race for Presidential race heated up with Samajwadi Party doing a flip flop, NDA remaining undecisive on their choice for President, Mamata firm on her choice and claiming that Samajwadi Party is on her side. Mulayam Singh remained king maker.
Here are the latest developments in race to presidential elections:
*UPA meet on Presidential poll begins at 7 Race Course Road. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee skips the meet.
*Congress President Sonia Gandhi meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of UPA's meeting on Presidential poll issue.
*The Congress may even make an appeal to the BJP-led NDA to support finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential election, TV news channels reported.
*The Samajwadi Party and Congress reached an agreement which will lead to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee being nominated as the UPA's presidential candidate, TV channels reported on Friday. The Samajwadi Party effectively scuttled West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's plans in the presidential elections. Mukherjee's name will be officially announced later in the day, probably after a meeting of the UPA.
*According to TV reports, Pranab may resign as the finance minister on June 24 after filing his nomination for the President's post and the Prime minister is likely to take over the Finance portfolio. Reports also say that P Chidambaram or Sushil Shinde may replace Pranab as the Leader of the Lok Sabha.
* Mamata Banerjee told reporters that Kalam will contest Presidential polls and Samajwadi Party is still on her side. She also appealed to all political parties to support Kalam.
* Mulayam Singh Yadav has not spoken and his party is making cautious statements.
* NDA discussed all Presidential candidates in their meet but decided to "wait and watch" the developments.
"The meeting was not for taking decisions. Today's meeting was in the context of Presidential poll, to discuss developments so far. To exchange notes and the way forward," BJP leader L K Advani told reporters after the 90-minute meeting of NDA leaders.
*Samajwadi Party MP Kiranmoy Nanda met Mamata Banerjee at her residence.
* Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met senior Congress colleagues, including Pranab Mukherjee, to discuss the presidential poll issue ahead of the UPA meeting. Besides Mukherjee, the meeting was attended by P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal.
*In another developemnt, NCP party spokesperson DP Tripathi met PA Sangma and told him not to press for his candidature inthe Presidential polls. While Sangma said, he is still in the race and will contest even if APJ Abdul Kalam contests.
*On the other hand, APJ Abdul Kalam did not rule out his candidature and said he will take right decision at right time.
"It is a good idea, will take right decision at right time," APJ Abdul Kalam told reporters on his name being suggested for President.*The Samajwadi Party on Friday said that the party did not want early elections and did not want to topple the government. Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav also said that the party will not join the UPA government. On being asked if Kalam was the joint candidate of the two parties, Ram Gopal said, "'Hamara' could also mean 'mera'," indicating only Mamata was committing on Kalam till now.
*Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had lunch with President APJ Abdul Kalam for on Friday. APJ Abdul Kalam, who has been backed by Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party for Presidential race, arrived in Patna on Thursday on a scheduled visit and was welcomed by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at the airport.
Kumar's receiving Kalam at the airport assumes significance in the backdrop of TMC and SP rooting for his candidature for the post of President.
*Ahead of UPA's meeting this evening, talks between Congress and SP gained momentum over the possibility of Mulayam Singh Yadav's support to the ruling dispensation candidate for the Presidential poll.
Aggarwal and Ram Gopal Yadav met Mulayam Singh Yadav this morning.