"Disclosing three names including that of the Prime Minister of India, I think this is something which does not make any political or ethical sense.... Never ever there has been an instance where a sitting PM's name is being branded like this. "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," she told reporters. The minister was commenting on Banerjee mentioning three names including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the President's office.
"She is going ahead with the consensus she is trying to evolve over a single name." Asked if the Congress chief would hold another round of consultations with alliance partners, she said, "Consultations are an ongoing process. She has been empowered by the UPA to do this whether it takes two or three rounds or as long as she deems it necessary or important to have a single name with maximum support emerging."
On allegations levelled by Opposition parties that the UPA has 'messed up' the presidential polls, Soni said: "The Opposition does not have anything to say. So, they will keep saying such things." She said the UPA Chairperson has been holding discussions with the allies and during a meeting with Banerjee on Wednesday, she gave a brief on Congress' discussions with its allies. "Now Mamata Banerjee along with others takes the name of the Prime Minister in a press conference...This is not acceptable to us.... The Prime Minister and the Congress have said that he is and will remain the Prime Minister," she said. Soni said the Congress President had discussed the issue with Banerjee as she is an ally and taking her along was "important and necessary".
Asked if the Congress would try to evolve a consensus over one of the two names suggested by the party chief, Soni said, "I cannot say which name will emerge later. It is not possible for me to say as till the time the Congress President herself announces that a particular name has emerged with the maximum support."
Meanwhile, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy accused the Congress of belittling Mamata Banerjee. Supporting Banerjee for making public the Congress preferences for the next President, he said:"For far too long, the nation has tolerated the Congress mentality of subterfuge and secrecy. Mamata Banerjee has done justice by revealing the sneaky name-peddling by Sonia Gandhi to humiliate Pranab Mukherjee. Now the cat is out of the bag for which nation thanks Mamataji," he said.
The Janata Party chief said it was ridiculous for "discredited Congress leaders to try and decry Banerjee disclosing the names of possible Congress nominees." Lauding the mercurial leader, Swamy said Banerjee has earned her political spurs by uprooting the Communists from West Bengal which the Congress could not do. Instead, they won seats with her help. "Instead of showing gratitude and reverence, they now want to belittle her," Swamy said.