Mamata calls APJ Kalam number one candidate, ready for contest
PTI NEW DELHI TRINAMOOL Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who along with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav shocked the Congress on Wednesday with their move, asserted on Thursday that former President APJ Abdul Kalam is a “number one candidate” and made it clear that they would “contest” if there was no consensus on him.
Banerjee also said if the ruling party candidate loses in the Presidential poll, then it is for the Congress to consider the issue of mid-term elections.
“The ball is in the court of the Congress,” she told reporters before leaving for a meeting with Yadav, her third in the last 48 hours.
Banerjee said that she and Yadav were seeking consensus on the candidature of Dr Kalam and “whoever supports, supports and whoever does not support, we will go according to our path“.
“We have given a clarion call, whoever supports or not supports us is not our problem,” the Trinamool chief said. The West Bengal Chief Minister also said that she will not attend the UPA meeting on Friday, claiming that she was already late in leaving Delhi for Kolkata.
To a question whether she would quit the UPA, she said, “We have not left the UPA. If they don’t want (us), the choice is with Congress.... We don’t want to topple the government.” On whether TMC-SP would accept NDA support to Dr Kalam’s candidature, she indicated that she would not be averse to it.
Describing Dr Kalam as the “best candidate”, she said, “It is not fair to say he will be BJP candidate or (BJD leader) Naveen (Patnaik)’s candidate or Mamata’s candidate.
Earlier also, (when Kalam became the President in 2007) I had proposed Kalam’s name and NDA had supported.” Earlier, her party MP Kunal Ghosh said that if the Congress fields Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice-President Hamid Ansari, the Trinamool will “contest” the election with Dr Kalam as its nominee.
“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 APJ Abdul Kalam,” he said.
Trinamool Congress, which has teamed up with Samajwadi Party, floated the names of Dr Kalam, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday as a counter to the UPA’s nominee.
The Congress on Thursday rejected their candidature.
He claimed that Banerjee had not breached any trust by disclosing the names of Mukherjee and Ansari discussed with her by Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, saying that it was done with the “consent” and “permission” of the Congress chief.
“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,” Ghosh said.
He went on to claim that Banerjee “took permission” of Gandhi on disclosing the names discussed at their meeting.