In a complete U-turn the Samajwadi Party pledged its support to Pranab Mukerjee as the Presidential candidate on Friday. Just days before, the SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav along with West Bengal Chief Minister had announced that their choice of candidate for the top post were AJP Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee.
Senior SP leader Kamal Farooqui said while talking to a TV channel said that the SP did not support a Congress candidate earlier as the grand old party was not very clear about their candidates. “We came out with three names as Congress had two names. It is only now that the UPA has named Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President. But now that the Congress has named their candidate we will support them,” said Farooqui.
Also as per reports, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav also clarified the stand of his party saying that they are fine with the candidature of Pranab as President.
Mamata after meeting UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday had told the waiting media that Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari were Congress’ choices for the next President. She then went ahead and named three new candidates of her choice – APJ Abdul Kalam, Mammohan Singh and Somnath Chaterjee – in a joint press conference with Mulayam, leaving the Congress stunned at the developments.
Apart from listing out a separate list of candidates, what was more embarrassing for the Congress was the naming of Prime Minister as a candidate for President. This was unprecedented – to name an incumbent PM as a potential for the President’s post. This was a virtual no-confidence in Manmohan Singh to run the country by them.
Also to see Mamata and Mulayam on the same platform took the Congress by surprise. Mulayam Singh Yadav has always been the saviour for the Congress, be it the nuclear deal or the Lokpal Bill.
The Congress was always comfortable with the fact that if and when the maverick leader from West Bengal may decide to leave the UPA coalition, they could always depend on the SP to bail them out. The SP is giving outside support to the present government.
But now that the Samajwadi Party has come out in support of the Presidential candidate of the UPA, the Congress must be heaving a sigh of relief.