Reacting to criticism over the disclosure of names of presidential candidates, which were discussed in an exclusive meeting with Sonia Gandhi, the Trinamool Congress said that its chief — Mamata Banerjee — had done it with the approval of the Congress president.
The Trinamool Congress also claimed that Banerjee had proposed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name as a possible candidate for the titular post during that very meeting. “When she asked Soniaji if she could reveal the names of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari to the media, Soniaji gave her consent,” Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh said.
Banerjee had on Wednesday said that she had initially suggested the names of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, former WB governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar to Gandhi.
According to Trinamool sources, the meeting took place in a very cordial atmosphere, and Gandhi even offered sandwiches and cookies to Banerjee — who came to 10 Janpath after a late lunch. Though Banerjee politely declined the sandwiches, she ate a few cookies after Gandhi said she had got them especially for her.
When Gandhi proposed the names of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and vice-president Hamid Ansari, Banerjee reportedly refused any discussion on Mukherjee’s candidature and expressed her reservations about Ansari.
During her meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Banerjee again suggested the names of Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Meira Kumar. However, Yadav was not quite supportive of their candidature either. Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s name was then added to the list.