After UPA allies Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav rejected the Congress’ choice for President and named their own,UPA leaders went into a huddle from Thursday morning trying to figure out the next move. Here is a wrap of what has been happening since morning.
* The day breaks in complete silence from the Congress.
* Top Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee,P Chidambaram and A K Antony then make their way mid-morning to Sonia Gandhi’s 10,Janpath residence for a strategy meeting. They leave without talking to the media. Pranab Mukherjee holds up his folded hands.
* DMK leader T R Balu brings a missive from his chief Karunanidhi to Sonia Gandhi. Karunanidhi had said yesterday he would make his choice for President clear after the Mamata,Mulayam dust has settled. It is understood Balu conveyed the name to Sonia today. After the meeting,Baalu says Sonia Gandhi would announce the name of UPA’s Presidential candidate anytime later this week.
* Congress top brass,including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi,decide to meet this evening to strategise a response. The meeting will be the first formal deliberation of top Congress leaders after the Mamata,Mulayam bombshell. Mukherjee,who is Congress’ choice for President,will be present at the core group meeting.
* Though some Congress sources ruled out the possibility of Singh participating in the Presidential race,there is no official response from the party to the manner in which SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee mentioned his name.
* Lalu Prasad Yadav makes noises that he would support the UPA’s choice.
* NDA ally JD(U) says they would make their stand clear only after the UPA has come out with a candidate. JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari says: ”Let Sonia Gandhi formally announce a name then they will decide on the name.” Sources in the party feel the choice of APJ Abdul Kalam in the race is “unusual”. They say this is the first time that the name of a former President has come up.
* After teaming up with Mulayam Singh,Mamata decides she will not meet Prime minister Manmohan Singh. Banerjee,who sprang a surprise by proposing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name for the President’s post yesterday,was scheduled to take a flight to Kolkata this afternoon but her close aides say she will not leaving the Capital today. Trinamool sources said the Prime Minister had invited Banerjee for a meeting yesterday but it did not take place as the schedule was not finalised.
* Congress says shortly before noon that the party cannot spare Manmohan Singh for President. ”He will continue till 2014.” Congress rejects the two other names of APJ Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee. Party spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi says: ”We cannot afford to spare Manmohan Singh as our Prime Minister. We do not accept the two other names of APJ Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee.” Dwivedi also made it clear that it was upset with Mamata for letting out names and suggesting fresh ones.
* Mulayam Singh Yadav cancels plans to go back to Lucknow. Stays put in continued…