New Delhi, June 15 (IBNS): The Congress is likely to name Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its nominee for the upcoming Presidential election despite apparent opposition from key ally Trinamool Congress (TMC), media reports citing unnamed party sources said.
The Congress is engaged in behind-the-scenes talks with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had backed TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, to win support for Mukherjee’s name.
Mukherjee’s name could be announced after a meeting of the Congress and other members of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition in New Delhi on Friday.
The Congress and the TMC continued to spar till late Thursday, responding angrily after a brief silence to Mamata's naming of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a Presidential candidate, while the latter said she has not crossed any limit.
Congress said Mamata Banerjee also violated the trust of its chief Sonia Gandhi by naming their choices- Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari- before media after a meeting with Gandhi, while Mamata said she was given the permission to take names.
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni slammed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh Yadav for naming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a candidate for the Presidential election.
"What Mamata has said is not unacceptable to us. The PM is PM," said the Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
"It was disrespectful of them to name him (Manmohan Singh) for the post of President. It was unbecoming of them," said Soni.
"Without any consultation how can someone name him for the post of President. Never before had a sitting Prime Minister's name been taken like that for the post of president," she said.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) during the day hit back saying party supremo Mamata Banerjee shared information on Presidential election only after taking Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi's consent on the issue.
Sonia Gandhi met Mamata on Wednesday over the presidential poll.
"Mamta Banerjee spoke about the meeting after taking Sonia Gandhi's consent," said TMC Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh.
"It is not at all correct to say that Mamata Banerjee broke any decorum," he said.
Mamata will meet Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav later on Thursday again and later named former President A P J Abdul Kalam as their 'number one' candidate for the post of president.
"I am not scared of anyone," Mamata told reporters Thursday after daylong drama over the issue and allegations and counter allegations.
"Kalam is our number one candidate. He is a good candidate," she said.
Mamata said she will not leave United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but it is up to the Congress to decide whether she will continue to be part of it.
"I am not leaving UPA. If they want to leave me they can. The ball is in the court of the Congress," Mamata told reporters on Thursday.
"I do not to leave UPA or topple the government," she said, adding that she is not the one to be kowtowed by Congress.
On Wednesday evening, Mamata and Mulayam dropped a bombshell by naming Singh as one of their choices for the post of President.
They also pitched the names of former President A P J Abdul Kalam (a choice of the rival BJP) and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their choices for the titular post.
Political observers said the move is seen as Mamata's deep-rooted opposition to Mukherjee, who is the first choice of Congress, followed by Vice President Hamid Ansari for the Presidential seat.
The Congress on Thursday said Manmohan will remain the Prime Minister of India till 2014.
Meanwhile, Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday called West Bengal Left leaders like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose after Congress ally Trinamool Congress refused to support him in the contest for the high post.
According to media reports, Mukherjee called up former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Left Front chairman Biman Bose for their support to his candidature.
Mukherjee has a cordial relation with the Left leaders like Bhattacharjee.
Left has reportedly not committed anything so far.
During the day, Congress president Sonia Gandhi also met Pranab Mukherjee and other senior Congress leaders.