Political prudence of Ram Gopal Yadav prevailed over the views of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav Friday as the party officially announced its support for United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav worked overtime to prevail upon his cousin Mulayam Singh Yadav to endorse the name of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and not go with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue.
Ram Gopal Yadav, minutes after the UPA's formal announcement of the name of Mukherjee as its candidate, said the "party is very happy that a senior, experienced and seasoned person like Pranab Babu has been selected as UPA's candidate for the top constitutional post".
He further said that he was formally announcing that the SP would support Mukherjee.
After Wednesday's stunner when Mulayam teamed up with Mamata Banerjee and jointly announced the names of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chaterjee as their preferred candidates for the post of president, a desperate Congress had tried to woo Ram Gopal Yadav, the most trusted lieutenant of Mulayam Singh in Delhi.
Insiders say that Ram Gopal Yadav was "worked upon by the Congress spin doctors" in the last two days and "several points of communications" were opened with him. A seasoned politician and a veteran parliamentarian, Ram Gopal Yadav was seen as "the only hope" by Congress leaders as they knew it was he who could override all decisions of Neta-ji, as was evident as his will prevailed over Mulayam Singh's when the latter threw close aide Amar Singh out of the party.
The union finance minister also is known to be very close to Ram Gopal Yadav and has "used him on many occasions" in his role as the 'sankatmochak' (fire fighter) for the UPA. Once senior Congress leaders roped Ram Gopal in, an insider told IANS, the "battle was considered half won", and 10, Janpath was accordingly informed of the same.
It was after due deliberations and assurances from the SP camp late Thursday night that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi directed party leaders to get tough on the mercurial Mamata Banerjee and decided to go ahead with the name of Pranab Mukherjee as the SP camp had "categorically refused to endorse the name of Vice President Hamid Ansari".
In the last interaction between Mulayam Singh and Ram Gopal, it was decided that SP would support Pranab Mukherjee.
But since Mulayam Singh had made his stand for the 'joint nominees' with Mamata Banerjee, he refused to make the announcement of the SP support and authorised Ram Gopal to "do the needful" and himself returned to Lucknow, after a brief stopover at Agra.