New Delhi, India
The race for the Rashtrapati Bhawan has gathered more steam. The Election Commission is expected to issue a notification on Monday. The chances of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee becoming UPA's Presidential candidate are high. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has conveyed that she isn't opposed to any candidate and it's up to the Congress to decide, according to sources.
The chances of a consensus on Pranab may also virtually boil down to whether the Centre will allow a special package for West Bengal. West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra will meet Pranab on Monday for a financial package for the state.
Amit Mitra is in Delhi for a crucial round of talks with the Union Finance Ministry. Both the Prime Minister and Pranab Mukherjee had told Mamata when she visited the capital that an interest waiver was not possible as other states would ask for similar exceptions.
This comes after the Congress in West Bengal appealed to the Trinamool on Sunday to back Pranab Mukherjee as the President. Congress leader and minister in West Bengal Manas Bhuniya had appealed to Mamata Banerjee to support Pranab if the High Command makes him the candidate.
On why he made the appeal, Bhuniya said, "We are worried about the Trinamool Congress' non-committal attitude, it is significantly quiet in this matter."
NCP's Supriya Sule has said that her party would back a consensus UPA candidate. This comes even as NCP leader PA Sangma seeks support from various parties for his candidature.
Meanwhile, the Opposition has also not yet arrived at a consensus on a candidate for the President's post. Last week, former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP leader PA Sangma met BJP leader LK Advani to seek the party's support for his candidature.
Sangma's candidature has been endorsed by BJD chief Naveen Patnaik and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. However, the BJP has said that it will arrive at a consensus after consulting all its allies.
By CNN-IBN, June 11, 2012
(With additional information from PTI)