BJP-backed presidential candidate PA Sangma went all out on Friday to garner support for his candidature against Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee but received a setback when UPA ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee refused to meet him.
Sangma, however, insisted he would meet her in the next few days even as he called upon MPs and MLAs to defy party line and give him a "conscience vote".
Sangma said he would meet political leaders across the country and projected himself as the representative of tribal sentiments.
He also sought a meeting with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray to request him for support even though the NDA partner, along with the JD(U), has announced that it would back Mukherjee.
Sangma challenged his rival to a debate ahead of the July 19 election but the Congress rejected the idea.
"Who is responsible for all this corruption? It has to be a candidate-to-candidate debate," Sangma said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari responded by saying, "The Constitution does not ordain or mandate that the President of India manages the economy of the country. Therefore, the suggestion for the debate is a non sequitur (a statement or conclusion that does not follow logically from the previous statement) and non-starter."