Zeroing in on a Presidential candidate has always been interesting. This time also it is no different.
The UPA's ally, Trinamool Congress, and supporter from outside Samajwadi Party rejected the Congress's names for the post – the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee and the Vice-President, Mr Hamid Ansari.
After a meeting with the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee, said, “We had detailed discussions. Ms Gandhi told me that she had held meetings with the allies and her first choice is the Finance Minister and second choice is Mr Ansari.”
The Trinamool chief met SP leader, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, after her meeting with Ms Gandhi.
Briefing reporters along with Mr Yadav here on Wednesday, she said that Trinamool and SP prefer the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, former President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, as candidates for the post.
Both SP and Trinamool appealed to other political parties to support anyone of these three so that there is a consensus on the candidate.
Hinting that more members of the UPA are in favour of the SP-Trinamool suggestions, the NCP chief, Mr Sharad Pawar, also said the alliance should work on consensus candidate.
The Trinamool Congress has been indicating that they are reluctant to support both Mr Mukherjee and Mr Ansari for the post. The SP may bargain for the Vice-President's post if the Congress wants their support for the President's post.
Both the Trinamool chief and the SP were also bargaining with the Centre for financial packages to West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, industrialist Mr Anil Ambani had also met Mr Yadav fuelling speculation that corporates are also interested in the process of electing the next President.
Sources indicated that since the SP and the Trinamool are opposing the Congress's choices, the ruling party either will have to support any three names suggested by them or find another person who will be acceptable to the allies for the President's post.