Mamata says no difference on Kalam, Mulayam yet to take a final view
Even as the Trinamool Congress today insisted that APJ Abdul Kalam was its first choice as well as that of Samajwadi Party for President, sources said Mulayam Singh Yadav will take a final view only after consulting his senior party colleagues. Yadav is likely to discuss with senior party leaders of his party the Presidential elections and the candidate of Samajwadi Party. Can't afford to spare PM: Congress | Govt clumsily handling prez poll: Advanidelhi Updated: Jun 15, 2012 00:48 IST
Even as the Trinamool Congress on Thursday insisted that APJ Abdul Kalam was its first choice as well as that of Samajwadi Party for President, sources said Mulayam Singh Yadav will take a final view only after consulting his senior party colleagues.
Sources said Yadav is likely to discuss with senior party leaders of his party the Presidential elections and the candidate of Samajwadi Party.
"Only after consulting senior leaders will Yadav decide who should be the Samajwadi Party candidate. There is no final word on it yet from SP," a party leader said.
TMC, however, insisted there are no differences and Kalam is the preferred choice of both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee had even gone to the extent of saying there is no question of backing out from this stand. She maintained a consensus should be built around Kalam's name as he is the best suited for the job.
Asked if a consensus is elusive, Banerjee indicated TMC and SP would be ready for a contest in such a scenario.
An emissary of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday met SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and said later that there was no change in their stand on the Presidential candidate and APJ Abdul Kalam.
"Everything is alright. APJ Abdul Kalam is the candidate of both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee," TMC MP Kunal Ghosh told reporters after meeting Yadav at his residence.
Sources said Ghosh was carrying a message - apparently through a letter - to Yadav from Banerjee on the issue.
Asked what he had come to communicate to Yadav, Ghosh said "that is a different matter. Everything is alright. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee - what they have announced - that stand is on."
"Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee will tell. What was announced yesterday, that stand remains. APJ Abdul Kalam is the candidate of both Yadav and Mamata Banerjee," Ghosh said when asked about a formal announcement.
Ghosh was carrying a folded paper when he reached Yadav's residence in Mamata's car.
Yadav remained silent after his meeting with Banerjee who reiterated that former president APJ Abdul Kalam remains her No. 1 choice for the Presidential race.
Addressing the media before meeting the SP chief, Banerjee on Thursday said that Kalam is her Number 1 choice and she will not go back on her decision taken with Mulayam Singh.
Mamata roots for Kalam, says he's the best for Prez post
Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee today strongly pitched for A P J Abdul Kalam for the post of President and indicated that in case no consensus emerges on his candidature there will be a contest.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi before meeting SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Banerjee said "Kalam is our and Mulayam Singh Yadav's number one candidate. Don't say he is a BJP candidate, or Navin's (Patnaik) candidate or Mamata's candidate... Kalam was our candidate. He will be the best candidate."
She maintained there should be a consensus on Kalam and insisted that he is a candidate who holds the position and stature required for the top post.
"Who can say that we will not support Kalam? Even in a direct election, the people of the country will support him," she said.
She maintained she and Yadav had given a "clarion call" for Kalam as he is a good person who should be elected to the top post. "We want a consensus on Kalam," she said.
Asked if Congress does not agree to Kalam's candidature, Banerjee said "if Congress agrees, well... else we will go according to our choice."
The TMC chief said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would also be a good choice and she would have been "happy" if he was but if "his party does not want him as a candidate" she could not do anything.
Ruling out the possibility of her quitting UPA, Banerjee said "I have not left UPA but if UPA wants, then it is their choice... The ball is with Congress."
"I am a simple man (sic). Mine is a small party," Banerjee said.
Asked if these differences could lead to a mid-term polls, the TMC chief said "there is nothing related to mid-term elections."
On the possibility of a ruling party candidate losing the Presidential polls, she said "then that party will decide".
Banerjee indicated there is virtually no chance of her or Yadav backing out from their stand now.
"There is no instance when we have broken it (our stand). What has occured that we break it? Our credibility is dear to us."
Earlier, Trinamool has said that if Congress names finance minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari as its Presidential candidate, it will "contest" the election with Kalam as its nominee.
Samajwadi Party (SP), meanwhile, said that it has not rejected any name for the post of President and consultations were on.
"We have not rejected any name. Consultation is going on and we have to have a consensus on one name because there can be only one president," Samajwadi Party leader Shahid Siddiqui told a news channel.
Congress on Thursday disapproved of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee dragging the name of a sitting Prime Minister amid concerns over race to the Raisina hill being turned into a "speculative" market.
With bitter politics being played out around the country's next President, the UPA also came under attack from the Opposition for handling the matter "clumsily" and was also accused of a "botch up."
After a meeting with AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa in Chennai, Senior BJP leader LK Advani described the developing situation as "dicey".
Amid allegations and counter-allegations, the Trinamool Congress claimed that West Bengal Chief Minister had not breached any trust by disclosing the names of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari after her meeting with Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, saying it was done with the "consent" and "permission" of the Congress chief.
Senior Congress minister Ambika Soni targeted Banerjee directly, stating that the chief minister's behaviour "doesn't make political or ethical sense."
"Never has there been an instance where the name of a sitting PM is bandied about like this," she said.
"It is a constitutional post, he heads the government and the country and one desists from such lack of courtesy... People of our country would wonder why such tactics are being adopted by political parties," Soni told reporters.
CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat termed as 'unprecedented' the proposal mooted by key UPA allies Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee to make Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a candidate for the Presidential poll, saying it showed lack of principles in the ruling coalition.
Reacting to the names proposed as Presidential candidates, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury was critical of the way the names have led to speculation.
"It is neither good for the nation nor for our polity to speculate on these names...it is not good for those also whose names have been floated in the speculation market," he said.
Coming down heavily on the UPA on its handling of the Presidential election issue, Advani said "I have never seen any earlier government handling an important election like the Presidential election so clumsily in such a manner that its position gets worse day-by-day."
Endorsing Advani's views, Jayalalithaa, said events of on Wednesday showed that the issue had been "botched up" by the Congress.
Virtually disapproving of Banerjee's action of disclosing the names of Mukherjee and Ansari as first and second choices of Congress, Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the process of consultation was still on and Gandhi had not finalised any name.
Gandhi is in the process of consulting even single-member parties and in the course of it two names have come up. "If Congress had decided on the name, two names would not have come up," he said.
"There is a dignity to the process. When such talks are held, names are not discussed outside," the Congress leader said, apparently referring to Banerjee disclosing the names to the media immediately after meeting Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday.
SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav hit at out at the Congress, accusing it of not dealing with Mulayam Singh's party in an appropriate manner while holding consultations on Presidential poll.
Yadav said Congress called "two-MP" parties for consultations on the issue but "did not treat the SP the way it should have".
"Responsibility for maintaining relations lies with the major partner. If there is something wrong, Congress should be held responsible," he said.
(PTI and IANS)
First Published: Jun 14, 2012 19:00 IST