NDTV Correspondent | Updated: June 14, 2012 12:27 IST
The Congress has said this morning it cannot spare Dr Manmohan Singh from his role as Prime Minister. The party asserted that Dr Singh will remain in office till the general election in 2014.
So more than 12 hours after Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee teamed up to brush-off the PM, Mr Mukherjee and Sonia Gandhi, the Congress has finally spoken in defence of the PM.
Mr Yadav and Ms Banerjee- the M&M combine- said last evening that their shortlist for President has the PM, former speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former president APJ Kalam. The Finance Minister did not make their cut.
The Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said this morning that there had been a breach of protocol in the way that Ms Banerjee told reporters that Mrs Gandhi had picked Mr Mukherjee as her first choice and Vice-President Hamid Ansari as runner up.
After the M& M shocker, Mrs Gandhi and the Congress are holding series of meetings today; internal, and with allies. This morning, Mrs Gandhi met with Mr Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister AK Antony, and DMK leader TR Baalu. Congress core committee to meet later today. PM likely to meet Mrs Gandhi this evening too.
Supporters of Finance Minister say he remains optimistic of landing the nomination.
Sharad Pawar and the DMK who are both members of the UPA are reportedly standing by Mr Mukherjee. DMK leader Mr Baalu said after his meeting with Mrs Gandhi this morning that the DMK has given "one name" to her as its choice (read Mr Mukherjee)
After her comment on the PM yesterday, Ms Banerjee is not scheduled to meet the PM today, said her party. Asked about the possibility of Ms Banerjee meeting the PM, Railway Minister Mukul Roy said, "The question does not arise".
Former president Abdul Kalam is on the M&M shortlist along with the PM and former speaker Somnath Chatterjee. BJP has in the past toyed with the idea of supporting Mr Kalam. But its ally, Nitish Kumar's JD(U) is not keen on that, say sources. If that changed and BJP-led NDA teams up with M&M for Mr Kalam, it has the numbers to get him elected.
BJP is also not opposed to supporting Mr Mukherjee, say sources, especially if it can then play a big role in deciding who becomes Vice-President. But on record, the party has said it will wait for the Congress to declare its candidate before taking a stand.
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