Trinamool Congress (TMC) said on Thursday if Congress names Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari as its Presidential candidate, it will “contest” the election with APJ Abdul Kalam as its nominee.
Toughening its stand the key UPA constituent the party claimed that its leader Mamata Banerjee had not breached any trust by disclosing the names of Mukherjee and Ansari discussed with her by Sonia Gandhi yesterday. TMC added that it was done with the “consent” and “permission” of the Congress chief.
Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh said, “I can visualise a contest if Congress goes ahead with the names of Pranab Mukherjee or Hamid Ansari…If Congress names either Pranab Mukherjee or Ansari, then TMC will contest… Trinamool Congress or Samajwadi Party then may go with A P J Abdul Kalam.”
TMC 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.
On the Congress criticism of Trinamool chief for disclosing the names of Mukherjee and Ansari, Ghosh said, “Yesterday Mamata had gone to meet Sonia Gandhi to discuss Presidential candidate and after the discussion Mamata asked
Sonia whether she could disclose (names) to media standing outside…. And Sonia gave her the consent. That is what exactly she did.”
He went on to claim that Mamata “took permission” of Gandhi on disclosing the names discussed at their meeting. “But now Congress is saying that Mamata should not have disclosed the names. Congress charges are not true. Whatever she said is well within the knowledge of Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” Ghosh said.
Notably, for the first time in the alliance, Congress on Thursday outrightly snubbed TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on the issue of Presidential candidate. The Congress refused to accept all the three names including that of Manmohan Singh, proposed by Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh for the post of President.
Mamata on Wednesday had once again set tongues wagging in the political circles after she rejected Pranab’s candidature for President. In a dramatic turn of events, the TMC and SP on Wednesday suggested three candidates — Manmohan Singh, APJ Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee. However, Congress stood up to TMC chief’s bullying tactics stating that they won’t accept any names proposed by the two parties.
Party spokesperson, Janaradhan Dwivedi talking to media persons said: “We reject all the other 3 names (APJ Kalam, Somnath Chatterjee and Manmohan Singh). If Congress arrives on a name, then it will be one name not two.”
He went on to add,”We cannot afford to spare Manmohan Singh as PM. Manmohan Singh will be Prime Minister till 2014 elections.” Congress for the first time blamed the West Bengal Cheif Minister for flouting the norms.
Later in the day, IMB Minister and Congress Leader slammed Mamata for suggesting Manmohan’s name for President candidate. “Naming PM as presidential candidate is unethical, undignified. It was lack of courtesy by Mamata in disclosing the name,” Soni said. However, TMC defended Mamata saying she had asked Sonia before announcing the names to media.
Reports said that Mamata will not vote for Pranab Mukheree as Presidential candidate.
It is not the first time that the West Bengal CM has embarrassed UPA government fuelling distrust into the Congress- Trinamool ties.