The Congress and its allies TMC and Samajwadi Party today appeared set for a confrontation,with the ruling coalition rejecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s candidature for the President’s post while the other side gave all indications of a contest.
On a day of hectic political activities triggered by the virtual revolt of the two regional parties,the Congress rebuffed SP-TMC nominees who also included former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
Coming down heavily on TMC chief Mamata Banerjee for disclosing the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari as the first and second choices of UPA,Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi declared that “We cannot afford to spare Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The other two names (A P J Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee) are not acceptable.”
The assertion came after Congress President Sonia Gandhi held consultations with senior party leaders including Mukherjee and allies DMK and NCP.
Later,the Congress Core Group met at the Prime Minister’s residence for about two hours when they reviewed the strategy and decided to have a meeting of UPA leaders
In the other camp,Mamata,who along with SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav shocked the Congress yesterday with their move,asserted that Kalam is a “number one candidate” and made it clear that they would “contest” if there was no consensus
In an ominous remark that could have a bearing on the stability of the government,she said if the ruling party candidate loses in the Presidential poll,then it is for it to consider the issue of mid-term elections.
“The ball is in the court of the Congress,” she told reporters before leaving for a meeting with Yadav,her third in the last 48 hours.
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