TMC may abstain from voting

The TMC is said to be in a dilemma over opposing Pranab Mukherjee as the party feels hemmed in on the issue of “Bengali pride”.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Published:June 20, 2012 3:56 am

Caught in a catch-22 situation on the issue of Presidential election,the Trinamool Congress is veering around the idea of abstaining from voting although party chief Mamata Banerjee is still said to be weighing her options.

During her meeting with the Trinamool parliamentary party in Kolkata on Monday,Banerjee was learnt to have said that since none of the candidates proposed by her is in the fray — former President A P J Abdul Kalam opted out of the race Monday afternoon — it would be “a matter of principle” not to take part in the voting at all. The TMC is said to be in a dilemma over opposing Pranab Mukherjee as the party feels hemmed in on the issue of “Bengali pride”.

“After canvassing for a man of Kalam’s stature,it would not look good to end up supporting just another candidate endorsed by the NDA. The message should not go out to the people,especially in Bengal,that we were rooting for Kalam just to foil a Bengali’s chances to the top post,” said a TMC MP who did not wish to be named.

The Congress,in the meantime,is also making conciliatory noises to pacify the West Bengal Chief Minister saying that she remains a “valued ally” and adopting a forgive-and-forget approach to her decision to suggest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name as one of the Presidential candidates.

“Mamata Banerjee is our valued ally and will remain our valued ally,” AICC in-charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed told reporters here.

Asked whether the Trinamool Congress chief had crossed the limit by suggesting Singh’s name as a Presidential candidate,he said,“She had suggested a few names and I don’t think she has crossed the limit. Suggesting the name of the Prime Minister was a little bit unwelcome for Congress people but her statement was neither unethical nor undemocratic.”

Ahmad said the Congress would reach out to Banerjee to seek her support for Mukherjee and was hopeful that Banerjee would support him in the July 19 Presidential elections. “Now,Kalam is not in the race. Obviously,we will request her to vote for Mukherjee,” Ahmad said.

The AICC has advised party workers in West Bengal to exercise restraint in dealing with the TMC.

Meanwhile,Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa talked to Banerjee on the phone to garner support for former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma.

Kalam praises Mamata

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Tuesday described Mamata Banerjee as a “courageous leader with firmness for a cause”. In a letter,which was uploaded on Banerjee’s Facebook account,he said,“During the short interaction I saw in you a great leadership quality of graceful politics,your firmness for a cause,honesty for the cause of the nation,particularly your courage and determination to sacrifice golden political throne is indeed graceful politics”. He thanked Banerjee “for proposing my name for presidential election,2012,and all your ceaseless efforts” and added: “I am extremely sorry for the disappointment I have caused to you.”

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