Amid suspense over when the Congress is going to name its preferred presidential candidate, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee —widely considered as the frontrunner— further fuelled the speculations saying, “I may not be here” in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Although Mukherjee, replying to the debate on finance bill, quickly said he didn’t mean his elevation to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, his remarks invoked laughter across the opposition and treasury bench. Congress president Sonia Gandhi was present during Mukherjee’s reply. The finance minister clarified that he meant he may not be in parliament to see substantial increase in India's tax-GDP ratio in the next 7-8 years.
Meanwhile, even as the suspense over the UPA’s possible Presidential candidate lingers, the Congress brass may not announce its choice for the next President anytime soon but wait till the election commission announces the poll schedule."The Congress or the UPA never announced its candidate ahead of the formal declaration of the presidential poll. The same routine is expected this time as well," said a top Congress leader.
The election commission is likely to announce the dates for the poll towards May-end or early June, after the budget session comes to an end on May 22. Sources said after the first round of talks with the UPA allies, the party managers are likely to hold talks with outside-supporters and key opposition parties. Discussions with Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP and Left are expected within this week.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik— whose BJD has 30,000 votes— held parleys in Delhi in the past few days. “We are discussing the issue within our party. We prefer to have a consensus candidate as it is clear that none of the major parties can elect its candidate on its own,” BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab told HT.