Mumbai: UPA presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said a large number of non-UPA parties have extended support to him and this reflects a broad consensus on his candidature for the top Constitutional post.
"No doubt I have been fielded by UPA, but my candidature has been supported by a large number of parties, who are not in UPA," he told reporters at the Chavan Pratishthan in south Mumbai after addressing a meeting of legislators and MP of the ruling Congress-NCP Democratic Front government in Maharashtra.
Mukherjee said the purpose of his visit to Mumbai was to meet and thank members of the electoral college and also those, who have supported his candidature for the July 19 election.
"Apart from UPA, the JDU, Shiv Sena, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, SP, BSP, RJD, JD(S) and LJP of Paswan and a host of smaller parties like Naga National Front of Nagaland and Bodo Peoples Party have supported my candidature. Many other parties, including some smaller parties from Maharashtra have also supported me," he said.
"Today, I have no identity. I cannot speak on behalf of party or government," he said.
Asked about who would be the next Finance Minister, he said, "I have no right to recommend the next FM. That prerogative is with the PM."
On being asked about the mercy plea pardon by the President, Mukherjee said, "I cannot give my opinion on the issue as it is a constitutional provision.
"I have come to express my thanks. I am also calling on respective leaders, who have extended their support and have also expressed their desire to meet me.
"I am not forcing myself on anybody."
Asked on his views that the President`s post was largely ceremonial and whether he would like to see the Constitution amended to rectify this, he said,
"The authority to amend the Constitution is not vested with the President".
"The answer can be given only by political party, not by anyone else," he said.
To a query on who would be the next troubleshooter for UPA government and whether it could be Sharad Pawar, Mukherjee said, "Congress party and UPA have a large number of talented people."
On a lighter note, Pranab thanked the gathered media for their support over the years. "I may have been rude to you... please forget it," he said.