New Delhi/Kolkata: The race to Rashtrapati Bhavan appears to have reached the final round with Congress president Sonia Gandhi scheduled to meet TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, apparently to seek her support for Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature as the next President of India.
Mamata Banerjee arrived here on Tuesday night for consultations with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi tomorrow on the issue of Presidential poll nominee of UPA amid intense speculation on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's candidature for the post.
Soon after her arrival here, Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is a key constituent of UPA, met Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to discuss the Presidential polls.
"I am meeting Soniaji tomorrow to discuss the Presidential elections," Banerjee told reporters on arrival at the airport here.
Trinamool Congress, with 19 members in the Lok Sabha, is the largest constituent of UPA after Congress. Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which has 22 members in the Lok Sabha, is an outside supporter of the ruling alliance.
Earlier in Kolkata, Banerjee said she would wait for Congress to propose a nominee for the top Constitutional post.
"Let me see what they say," was her brief reply to a question on whether she would propose any name.
On being told that the name of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's was doing the rounds as the Presidential nominee, she replied "that is a Congress matter. Let me see what she (Sonia Gandhi) says".
Sonia Gandhi, authorised by the Congress Working Committee to decide on the candidate for the President's post, is engaged in consultations with allies on evolving a consensus nominee.
Defence Minister AK Antony has already held discussions with DMK chief M Karunanidhi while Sonia Gandhi had had talks with NCP leader Sharad Pawar and RLD chief Ajit Singh on the presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, Pranab appears to have beaten others in the race but his elevation hinges on Didi’s support and she on her part has linked support to his Presidential bid with a special financial package for West Bengal.
Yesterday, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra had met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the issue.
However, the Congress has dismissed any possibility of a quid pro quo between any help to states and the Presidential poll.
Importantly, Sonia – reportedly - made up her mind to support Pranab’s presidential bid after meeting him yesterday evening.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has emerged as another key player in the high-stakes game. He has indicated that he may support Congress’ candidate but has refused to reveal his cards at the moment.
Reports said that he may also seek a financial package for Uttar Pradesh before professing his support for Pranab.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 13:23