With the election commission set to announce the presidential poll schedule sometime this month, almost all the political parties are keeping mum on who may finally reach Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, however, continues to lead the race. He even abruptly cancelled on Monday his crucial June13-15 visit to Afghanistan where he was supposed to attend a multi-lateral meeting on the regional security scenario.
But his party is yet to finalise the name of its candidate and has not yet invited the UPA allies for reaching a consensus on the issue.
"All preparatory works are in full swing and an announcement regarding the election schedule is due shortly," new chief election commissioner VS Sampath said soon after assuming the charge.
But though earlier reports claimed that the Congress would finalise the name of its candidate by June 16, UPA sources indicated that the move had been deferred till Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's return from foreign tour on June 23.
The Trinamool Congress, the second biggest UPA constituent, and the Samajwadi Party (SP) that supports the UPA from outside have kept the Congress guessing about their choice.
In an apparent shift from his earlier position, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Monday that he would take a call on the issue only after the UPA and the NDA announce their respective nominees.
"There are no candidates so far. We will decide on whom to support after considering the merits and de-merits of the candidates," he said after addressing the party's parliamentary board meeting in Delhi.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, one the other hand, has apparently linked the Trinamool Congress' support to the financial assistance for her state.
Mukherjee had a meeting with West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra on Monday. The talks ended inconclusive even after two hours of hard bargaining. But the Congress later denied that there was any link between the package and the TMC's support.
"You need to de-segregate these two things. The state seemingly in a financial distress reached out to central government for certain concessions. It is certainly not seeking a quid pro quo," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.
The opposition CPI(M) and JD(U) have both called for consensus and asked the UPA to name its candidate.