Mamata to meet Sonia on presidential choice Wednesday (Lead)

June 12th, 2012 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Wednesday regarding the upcoming presidential polls, Trinamool Congress insiders said.

Banerjee, whose Trinamool is the second largest constituent in the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, will leave for Delhi Tuesday evening, said a close aide of the chief minister.

The West Bengal chief minister, who received an invite from Gandhi for the talks, will be 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.

The Congress president has been authorised by the party’s working committee to finalise a candidate for the president’s post and is holding talks with allies on evolving a consensus.

Trinamool Congress 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 the polls in the next couple of days.

Banerjee’s support is crucial for the Congress candidate to sail through. There has been speculation that union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee could become the Congress nominee for the top slot.

Banerjee 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 there has been no one from the state who has occupied the top slot.

With her demand on a financial package remaining unfulfilled, Banerjee has stayed aloof to the momentum in support of Mukherjee’s candidature.

A senior West Bengal Congress leader, Manas Bhunia, had Sunday appealed to Banerjee to support Mukherjee for the country’s top post.

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