Prez poll: Cong rejects PM's name, backs Pranab

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New Delhi, Jun 14: The Congress on Thursday rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's name as a probable candidate for next month's presidential poll. It made it clear that it would stick to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its candidate of choice. Sources in the Congress said this after Mukherjee met party chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the presidential election at the latter's residence on Thursday morning.

The meeting took place after the Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party leaderships threw their weights behind Singh, former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as the probable candidate for the office of the President. Earlier, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had met Sonia Gandhi where the latter proposed the names of Mukherjee and the Vice-President, Hamid Ansari, as her preference, in that order.

The twist-in-the-tale scripted by TMC and SP definitely surprised the Congress and top leaders including Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony rushed to 10 Janpath to chart out the future course of action. DMK leader T R Baalu also met Sonia Gandhi and said M Karunanidhi had also suggested a name for the presidential poll although he refused to reveal the name. It is learnt that the Congress core committee would meet on Thursday evening to discuss the issue of a consensus candidate.

The BJP, meanwhile, said the current scenario over the presidential election had been orchestrated by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it would not yet disclose the name of the candidate his party would support and also remained noncommittal about backing APJ Abdul Kalam, who incidentally was elected to the post during the regime of the BJP-led NDA.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP chief, also discussed the issue with NDA convenor Sharad Yadav. The BJP-led alliance, however, decided to wait for the Congress's response to their suggestion for the SP was an ally of the Congress.

The name of Manmohan Singh as a probable presidential candidate was the latest twist even though his name was doing the rounds for some time. When asked about any such possibility a few days ago, Singh said he was happy doing what he was doing. The Congress also said that it would like Singh to continue till 2014.

Oneindia News

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