Though the process for presidential polls is likely to start next week, the UPA is yet to name its candidate for the post. President Pratibha Patil's term will end on July 24.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has held a series of consultations with UPA constituents, is keeping the matter under wraps. Though the names of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and vice-president Hamid Ansari have been doing the rounds for weeks now, a final word is yet to come from the Congress leadership.
Sources, however, have not ruled out the emergence of a dark horse in the run-up to the elections.
Gandhi stepped up the consultation process after she was authorised by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), at its meeting on Monday, to select candidates for the presidential and vice-presidential elections. Interestingly, it was Mukherjee who had moved the resolution at the CWC — a move interpreted by some political observers as his desire to exit from the presidential race.
However, the finance minister’s name continues to remain in the reckoning, with key allies DMK, NCP and RLD maintaining that they have no objection to his candidature. The Samajwadi Party has also expressed similar sentiments.
Gandhi met DMK leaders MK Stalin and TR Baalu on Thursday, a day after she held discussions with RLD chief Ajit Singh and Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling.
The DMK has maintained that there was no change in its stand since the time Gandhi's envoy AK Antony met party patriarch M Karunanidhi in Chennai last month. The DMK chief had told Antony that he had no objection to Mukherjee's candidature.