New Delhi: Faced with dramatic developments in the presidential race after allies proposed fresh names, Congress top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, will meet on Friday evening with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners.
The Congress on Thursday appeared set to get its UPA allies to endorse the candidature of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential candidate.
The Congress' core committee meeting, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi and held at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 7 Race Course Road residence here, virtually decided to back Mukherjee's candidature.
Clear indications in this regard was available after the meeting, with a senior leader noting that "no dark horse" was under consideration.
At least two senior Congress leaders noted that the announcement on the party's and the UPA's candidate for the president's post will be made Friday after the allies meet and discuss the issue.
The Congress leaders seem confident that even without the Trinamool, the government was in a position to get its nominee elected to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Mamata to skip meet
A combative West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banarjee would not attend the UPA meeting on the Presidential poll.
The Trinamool Congress chief she would not attend Friday's UPA meeting on deciding a presidential candidate. "I am not here (tomorrow Friday) as I had said that I will wait for 26 hours and I am returning after meeting (Samajwadi Party chief)Mulayam Singh (Yadav)," she told reporters.
"I have not left (the United Progressive Alliance), if they want me to leave then it is for the UPA to take a call. We don't want to topple the UPA government. The ball is in the Congress's court."
Interestingly, UPA’s biggest ally Trinammol Congress has pitched for APJ Abdul Kalam as their preferential Presidential candidate.
"We are for Kalam," Mamata said when asked whether she would support Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari, believed to be the two first and the second choices of the Congress.
Trinamool Congress, which has teamed up with Samajwadi Party, floated the names of Kalam, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee yesterday as a counter to UPA's nominee.
Terming Kalam the best choice, Banerjee, however, sought to erase the impression that she was backing the choice of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
However, Congress on Thursday rejected their candidature.
First Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 09:31