UPA expected to declare Prez candidate's name by June 15

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Bangalore: Speculation is rife over the nomination of Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, as a presidential candidate by the Congress. Mukherjee's cancellation of the Afghanistan trip scheduled next Thursday has made the predictions all the more stronger, for the UPA government is expected to announce its candidate on Friday, Jun 15. The finance minister, however, said that he cancelled the trip for he was more concerned with the economic turmoil back home.

The announcement of the presidential candidate seems imminent after the Election Commission said on Monday that a formal notification for the election to the prestigious office would be made soon.

Permutations and combinations about the probable nomination of a presidential candidate is high with none of the parties willing to make the first move. The Congress has given the responsibility to its chief Sonia Gandhi to make the pick but till now, no official declaration has come from 10 Janpath Road. Behind-the-veils-efforts for choosing a consensus candidate are underway and the Congress at the moment is trying to convince Mamata Banerjee, leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the second largest party in the UPA, on the issue.

Banerjee, too is playing a waiting game and said she will make a decision only after the Congress floats its nominee's name. The TMC supremo had earlier said that she would not support Mukherjee but now it seems she has softened her stand by saying she was not opposed to anybody. The duel between the Centre and the West Bengal government over a special financial package has also become a part of the politics over nominating the presidential candidate, feel certain quarters. 'Give aid, I will give you support' might be the mantra the lesser ally is dictating to the bigger one.

Mukherjee might be trying to meet Banerjee's demand but such preferential treatment has to be made with much adeptness. Other debt-ridden states like Punjab and Kerala will also seek favours if Bengal is given a special treatment.

Meanwhile, DMK and Samajwadi Party have expressed support for Mukherjee's candidature. The NCP, too, has said that it would give full support to the government over its choice for the next President of India.

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