Pranab, Ansari, Kalam in race for President

NEW DELHI, May 27:
The formal process for the election to the new President of India may not have begun yet but the race for the Rashtrapati Bhawan has already hot up with the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari emerging as favourites.
With the term of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil coming to an end on July 25, final touches to the preparations for the Presidential poll are being given by the Election Commission and a notification for the election of the new President could be issued in the coming week, sources in the Election Commission said.
However, even before the notification for the polls, several names for the post of President have been doing the rounds of political circles.
Among the various names doing the rounds for the post of President are that of Mr Mukherjee, Dr Ansari, former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Speaker Meira Kumar and former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma.
Also in the running for the post of the President is the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi Sumitra Gandhi Kulkarni.
However, of all the names, Mr Mukherjee and Dr Ansari have emerged as frontrunners.
In the past weeks, the Congress has been holding consultations with its allies as well as other parties for a possible consesnsus for the post of the President.
Though Congress is yet to declare its nominee for the post of President, sources said that the ruling party has been trying to evolve a consensus on the name of Mr Mukherjee for the post.
Officially, however, the party is yet to reveal its cards and said that it is holding consultations with its allies to build consensus for the post of President.
Congress leaders have maintained a suspense on whether the party is considering Mr Mukherjee as its nominee for the post.
A few weeks ago, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary stirred a controversy when she said that Mr Mukherjee was too important for the party and the government. However, soon after, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said no one, including the Finance Minister could be ruled out for the post.
In fact, political observers say that Prime Minister greeting Mr Mukherjee first among his Cabinet colleagues after the Finance Bill was passed meant that he was a serious contender for the President’s post.
The candidature of Mr Mukherjee has also been supported by the Left parties which have indicated that they are not averse to the name of the Finance Minister for President.
Sources say that UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is also supporting the Finance Minister’s name for the top constitutional post.
UPA ally All India Trinamool Congress has, however, expressed their opposition to the name of Mr Mukherjee.
The BJP has also said it would not support the candidature of the Finance Minister.
Also, given the fact that the Finance Minister has proved to be UPA’s troubleshooter in many crisis situation and considering that the image of the UPA II is an at an ebb following the poor show in the recent assembly elections and problems like price rise and inflation plaguing the party, the Congress may want to avail services of the Finance Minister till the next Lok Sabha polls.
Another name that has generated consensus both among the UPA and the Opposition parties is Dr Ansari.
In fact, if there is a person besides Mr Mukherjee that is favoured by the UPA for the President’s post it is the Vice-President.
In fact, not only the allies of the party but others like the Samajwadi Party and the JD-U have also expressed their support for Dr Ansari’s candidature.
Many parties favouring Dr Ansari’s candidature have said that the elevation of Dr Ansari to the post of President is as per the tradition in the country where many Vice-Presidents have been elevated to President’s post. (UNI)


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