Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Pranab himself ‘in the dark’

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Dhaka/Bangalore: With Congress playing its cards close to its chest, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, widely regarded as a front-runner for the Presidential candidate, today said he was “in the dark” over the issue while the Left parties said they would back a candidate with “wider acceptance”.

“We are delighted that your name was proposed for Indian Presidency? What’s your comment?” asked a scribe during an interaction with senior editors here. Mukherjee laughed at the suggestion, before saying that he himself was “in the dark” on the question.

“I am afraid I do not know. In our system of decision- making, unless a decision is taken nobody discloses it officially. So, I am in the dark as you are,” replied Mukherjee, who is often called the UPA government’s ‘trouble shooter’.

Mukherjee, 76, who is on a two-day tour of Bangladesh to join the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore, gave no indication on what is going on in the back channel deliberations in the Congress and the UPA.

His comments came days after he called the stories around his candidature “speculative” while Congress President Sonia Gandhi had asked the media to be patient as there was still time for the Presidential polls in July.

Earlier, while on his way to Manila where he attended the 45th Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank’s Board of Governors, Mukherjee had dismissed these reports as speculation. “It is speculative. I don’t want to comment on it,” he had said.

The past week has witnessed intense speculation in India over who would occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan next, with Mukherjee and the current Vice President Hamid Ansari being touted as the main contenders. Left parties prefer a Presidential candidate with “wider acceptance” decided through a consensus, CPI Secretary D Raja said in Bangalore. “It’s good if a candidate emerges on consensus,” Raja said. (PTI)

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