The UPA allies will meet at the Prime Minister's residence this evening to discuss their candidate for the Vice-President's election. The Congress, along with a majority of its allies, has seemingly set its mind on fielding Hamid Ansari for the post. And it seems to have enough numbers in its support, despite the fact that estranged ally Mamata Banerjee is not on board for this election either.
She is reportedly unhappy with Mr Ansari's likely candidacy, much as she was with that of Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA's candidate for President. Ms Banerjee is reportedly not in favour of Mr Ansari getting a second term as he was the original choice of the Left parties.
At today's meeting, though Ms Banerjee would be missing, the Trinamool Congress would be represented by Railway Minister Mukul Roy and he is expected to put forward their own choice. According to reports, the Trinamool is keen on Former West Bengal Governor Gopal Gandhi or Krishna Bose, a relative of Netaji Subhas Bose.
The Congress, however, is keen on Mr Ansari and has sought support from Left, Janata Dal Secular, Bahujan Samaj party and the Samajwadia party among others.
The election for Vice-President will be held in August. Even without Ms Banerjee, the Congress and its allies have 444 MPs, much more than the 396 votes they need to get Mr Ansari a second term. Stacked against Mr Ansari are the votes of 236 MPs - those of the BJP-led NDA, without the Janata Dal(United), the AIADMK, the Shiv Sena and the BJD.
The NDA-led Opposition has not spelt out its stand on the vice-presidential polls so far.MAMATA REJECTS SONIA'S INVITE FOR DINNER AHEAD OF PRESIDENT POLL
For the second time, Mamata Banerjee will skip a dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi for all members of the UPA.
Ahmed Patel, who is also Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, phoned Ms Banerjee last evening to invite her to the dinner scheduled for Wednesday, the 18th - the night before the election for the President of India.
The West Bengal chief minister has said she needs to be in Kolkata for a major rally scheduled for July 21.
Ms Banerjee has been estranged from the UPA since last month, when she rejected then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the coalition's candidate. Ms Banerjee had, flanked by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, suggested the Prime Minister as one of their three choices, winding the Congress. Mr Yadav, however, secretly struck a pact with the Congress to vote for Mr Mukherjee, leaving Ms Banerjee marginalised in a coalition that had grown accustomed to her calling the shots and over-ruling the majority opinion within the UPA on major policy issues.