Cong hopes Mamata will back its Prez, Vice-Prez candidates

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Mamata Banerjee-Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, Jul 13: Notwithstanding Mamata Banerjee's refusal to attend UPA dinner on the eve of the Presidential election, the Congress on Friday expressed hope that her party will vote for the UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. "Hopefully she (Banerjee) will vote for both our presidential and vice-presidential nominees," AICC in-charge for West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed told reporters here.

The confidence of the Congress leader stemmed from a feeling that Banerjee would not be able to overlook the Bengali sentiments and would also not like to be seen with the BJP. Though the Congress was yet to name its vice-presidential nominee officially, there were broad indications that the incumbent Vice President, Hamid Ansari, would be its candidate. Sources said that Ansari's name could be announced on Saturday after the UPA meeting.

A Congress top brass deliberated over the issue in detail in a long meeting. The meeting of Congress Core Group chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by her side is learnt to have decided on the vice-presidential issue. One quarter in the Congress thought that Ansari, who became the Vice-President in 2007 with the backing of many parties including Left, is a 'safer' choice.

Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel also rang up Mamata Banerjee inviting her to the UPA dinner on Jul 18, but the Trinamool Congress chief said would be unable to attend. Trinamool Congress sources said that it was not a boycott of the dinner but Banerjee could not attend as she would be busy with the annual Trinamool Congress 'martyr's day' rally in Kolkata on Jul 21, for which party workers would begin arriving from Jul 18.

PTI

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