Sangma seeks debate with Pranab (Lead)

June 22nd, 2012 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma Friday expressed confidence he would get support of the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and sought a debate with the ruling UPA’s nominee Pranab Mukherjee ahead of the July 19 presidential poll.

“I am constantly in touch with her (Mamata). I am going to meet her in the next couple of days. I am very much hopeful of her support,” Sangma told TV news channel CNN-IBN.

Without naming union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Sangma virtually dared him to a debate.

“It has to be a candidate to candidate debate. Democracy means debate… I am asking for debate,” said Sangma.

Even as the numbers favour United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee, Sangma said, “The election is governed by Article 55 and it clearly says that the election should be by a secret ballot. The question of numbers does not arise at all at this stage.”

The former Lok Sabha speaker pinned his hopes on a “conscience vote.”

“Secret ballot means conscience vote. I depend on the conscience vote and I believe in it,” he said.

On division between the UPA and the Left Front, Sangma said: “There is a split in almost all political parties. That shows this election is taken seriously. It’s not as smooth as the Congress is claiming it to be… People are giving serious thought to it. This is a welcome development.”

“Pranab Mukherjee also is not getting an undivided UPA support. Mamata Banerjee is a part of the alliance and she is not supporting Pranab Mukherjee as yet.”

Describing Mukherjee as not only a “great friend” but also his “guru” (teacher) for whom he has “lot of respect”, Sangma said the veteran Congress leader could not pay much attention to West Bengal.

Sangma said he would reach out to all Congress chief ministers, parliament members and legislators from the northeast region. “It is a question of northeast’s pride and not a question of party affiliations,” Sangma said.

On garnering support from tribal MPs and MLAs across the country, he said he has been sponsored by Tribal Council, which has representation from all parties and has around five percent votes in the electoral college for presidential election.

Sangma said his victory in the presidential poll will be a “big message” to “more than 100 million tribals” in the country and suggested that it could help redress Maoist and insurgency issues.

The Bharatiya Janata Party Thursday announced its support to Sangma.

Going by figures, Mukherjee gets 56.17 percent of votes of electoral college, while Sangma gets 31.7 percent.

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