HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Race heats up: DMK chief backs Pranab for Prez

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 05, 2012
First Published: 13:18 IST(5/5/2012) | Last Updated: 01:15 IST(6/5/2012)

All eyes are now on the Congress to disclose its preferred candidate’s name for the presidential election.

So far the party has maintained that no names of possible candidates have been discussed. But UPA ally, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, on Saturday declared that his party would back finance minister Pranab Mukherjee as the ruling alliance’s candidate for the post.

After NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Karunanidhi was the second leader to be consulted on the presidential poll by the Congress brass. But the DMK patriarch said no names were discussed when defence minister AK Antony met him in Chennai.

“I have no objection (to Mukherjee). But there has been no decision on the presidential candidate,” he said in Chennai.

While the remarks by Karunanidhi — who has had close ties with Mukherjee for more than 40 years — is seen in the political circle as a further boost for Mukherjee’s candidature, it also indicates that the allies are waiting for the Congress to clearly put forward names of the probable candidates. Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee and Ajit Singh — the other allies — had stated that they were waiting for the Congress to name its choice.

Karunanidhi’s public comments come as a relief for the Congress after Trinamool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee, toughened her position on Friday and said “all options are open” for the presidential poll.

Banerjee is waiting for the Centre to accept her demand on moratorium in loan repayment before spelling out her stand clearly.

Apart from Banerjee, all other allies have publicly or privately backed Mukherjee's candidature, building pressure on the Congress to name its choice. AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, who commands 3% votes in the electoral college, also said, “The AIADMK has not finalised its stand...”

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