Mamata to meet Sonia on presidential choice (Second Lead)June 12th, 2012 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Wednesday with regard to the upcoming presidential poll, Tuesday claimed that the financial package demanded by her government was not linked to her party’s support for the Congress nominee for the top job.
Banerjee also said that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will be present during her meeting with Gandhi.
“I will also talk to Mulayamji,” she told media persons before leaving the secretariat on way to the airport to catch an evening flight to New Delhi.
“Sonia Gandhi called me this morning. So I am going to Delhi. We will talk about the presidential poll Wednesday evening,” she said.
The West Bengal chief minister is being accompanied by Trinamool Congress state president and Lok Sabha member Subrata Bakshi. Railway Minister Mukul Roy is also expected to be present during Wednesday’s discussions.
Banerjee denied her government was using the issue of a financial package as a quid pro quo for supporting the Congress candidate in the poll. “Don’t mix these two issues. These are not related. The discussions on the financial package are a continuous process. Talks are on in this regard,” she said.
Asked to comment on speculation that union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was the front-runner in becoming the Congress candidate, she said: “This is an issue for the Congress. It will decide its candidate.”
The Trinamool Congress, the second largest constituent in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance dispensation at the centre, is yet to spell out its support for the Congress in the presidential election. Sonia Gandhi is likely to announce her party’s nominee for presidency in the next couple of days.
Banerjee’s support is crucial for the Congress candidate to sail through. She had earlier expressed her preference for either Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former state governor Gopal Gandhi or former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the top post and indicated she was not in favour of Mukherjee.
There has been speculation that Banerjee’s support to the possible candidature of Mukherjee would hinge on his agreeing to a financial package for West Bengal. There has also been some talk that Banerjee would find it difficult to turn down Mukherjee’s candidature as he is a Bengali and no one from the state has yet occupied the top slot.
With her demand remaining unfulfilled, Banerjee has stayed aloof from the momentum in support of Mukherjee’s candidature.
A senior West Bengal Congress leader, Manas Bhunia, Sunday appealed to Banerjee to support Mukherjee for the country’s top post.
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