The focus on who will be the next president of India is getting more pronounced for political parties. The election is scheduled for July.
Lalu Prasad Yadav of the RJD said on Monday, "Why doesn't Mamata Banerjee become the President "
As a senior partner in the UPA coalition, Ms Banerjee's support for the government's candidate is crucial to present a united front. Ms Banerjee's clout is also significant thanks to her sweeping victory in last year's Bengal elections.
The President is elected through a system of proportional representation and the votes of all elected representatives in state assemblies equal those of MPs. Regional parties in power like Ms Banerjee's, or the Samajwadi Party headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, therefore count for a lot.
Mr Yadav, sources say, has refused to support P Sangma, whose candidacy has been shouldered by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Over the weekend, Ms Jayalalithaa worked the phones, calling on parties ranging from the BJP to the Left to back Mr Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker. The BJP has said it will wait till its national executive meets in Mumbai on May 24 and 25 to discuss Jayalalithaa's campaign for Mr Sangma. The NCP, Mr Sangma's party, is another UPA member, and has made it clear that it will not support him over the UPA's official candidates.
So far, the Congress has yet to announce its choice -it has been consulting allies ranging from Ms Banerjee to the DMK's M Karunanidhi. The front-runners are Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and vice-president Hamid Ansari. Ms Banerjee, sources say, is not happy with either choice. On record, she has said she will make her support known after the Congress picks its candidate, and that she will not step on the Congress' turf. Much will depend on whether the Centre agrees to her request for a moratorium on huge interest payments that her state owes for loans.