Pranab Mukherjee : A president to be or not to be
The UPA leadership was aggressively wooing West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday in order to sew up her support for the presidential elections, and shut any opening for the BJP to cause trouble in the looming political contest.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi went into a huddle with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee over ways to meet Banerjee’s demand for a moratorium on interest payments on central loans. Although rules prohibit such a concession to an individual state, finance ministry officials are expected to show ingenuity to come up with a device to get around the problem in concert with West Bengal officials who are in the Capital along with their CM.
Banerjee, who discussed presidential polls with the Congress chief, was keeping her cards close to her chest, maintaining that it was the Congress which had to decide the nominee and that she did not believe in interfering with others’ businesses. Talking to reporters in Parliament, the CM said that while she would like the president to be chosen by consensus, a contest, in case it became unavoidable, would not trouble her either. “A consensus is desirable, but may not always be achieved because of political compulsions. So the possibility of contest cannot be ruled out and in such a situation those who are having the majority will naturally prevail.”