Prez poll: PM hopeful of TMC supporting Pranab

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Mamata Manmohan
New Delhi, June 23: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that he was still hopeful that the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a key ally of the UPA government, lending support to its candidate for the presidential election, Pranab Mukherjee, currently the country's finance minister. For him, chances were still alive of the Bengal-based party changing its stand. "TMC is still a part of the UPA and hope it finds a way to support Mukherjee," Singh said when asked whether he would request TMC chief Mamata Banerjee to reconsider her decision of not supporting Mukherjee. The presidential poll is scheduled on July 19. The PM also used the occasion to expressed confidence that the next finance minister would be unanimously elected and the opposition NDA would also be taken into confidence.

Meanwhile, Mukherjee, who visited his ancestral home in Birbhum district in West Bengal on Saturday morning, said in Kolkata later in the day that he was ready to talk to Banerjee seeking the latter's support to his candidature. "If required, I will definitely talk to her," he said. Mukherjee is scheduled to visit the Belur Math and also meet West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan on Sunday.

Intense drama had unfolded in the national capital last week after Banerjee met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the probable presidential candidate and stood stubborn on not supporting Pranab Mukherjee. She also had a temporary alliance with the Samajwadi Party, which although did not pay off. She instead proposed former President A P J Abdul Kalam's name for the top office.

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