7:25 pm: Mamata Banerjee leaves Mulayam Singh’s residence. Waiting media persons ask questions, the enigmatic Didi only flashes a victory sign and leaves.
“The UPA will have to work on consensus candidate in light of TMC-SP proposing the Prime Minister as one of their choices for President,” Pawar says.
7:00 pm: The BJP has not reacted to the new names suggested and is holed up in a core group meeting at party president Nitin Gadkari’s residence.
Mamata Banerjee meanwhile is still in talks with Mulayam Singh Yadav even after their joint announcement of the candidates they will support for President.
6:55 pm: NDTV reporting that the two political parties of Tamil Nadu have said they will evaluate the three names suggested for President. However, the channel says the DMK is unlikely to support the nomination of the three candidates suggested by Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh and will definitely not support the elevation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President.
6:25 pm: While APJ Abdul Kalam had served as President in the past and has found support from Mulayam Singh earlier, he was not considered to be a candidate this time. Kalam could find some support from the BJP though.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had shown no interest in becoming the President but now finds himself in the middle of the Presidential race and Somnath Chatterjee is perhaps a choice made to rile the Left parties from which he had parted acrimoniously.
6:20 pm: Mulayam Singh says he and Mamata have deliberated with great seriousness about the potential candidates and then bowls the ultimate political googly.
“We have chosen APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh, Somnath Chatterjee as three possible candidates. We believe that one of these three candidates should be chosen for a political consensus,” Mulayam says.
Mamata says that after discussing with Sonia Gandhi and Mulayam Singh they had decided the three names.
“It is best that the candidate is chosen from one of these three names,” she says.
We don’t have any priority on any of the three candidates, let the parties decide, Mamata says.
Mulayam and Mamata believe that one of these three candidates is best suited for the post since they have an impeccable record and can work for the progress of the nation.
6:15 pm: Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh are expected to address a press conference together. Mamata tries to organise the media.
5.14pm: Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee after emerging from the meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said that the party’s first choice is Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee followed by Vice President Hamid Ansari. “I have said nothing to say now. I shall go to Mulayam Singh’s place now and talk about it,” she told the media personnel outside 10 Janpath. But after disclosing Sonia’s choices, Mamata just walks away.
5.12pm: The meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi has ended.
5.04pm: The Congress is now reportedly undecided on Pranab Mukherjee‘s candidature for the Presidential post. NDTV is reporting that Sonia Gandhi is still undecided because Mamata Banerjee is not keen on Pranab’s name being put forward for President. Times Now collaborated the news, adding that Mamata has reportedly asked Sonia Gandhi for more options. However Mulayam Singh, Sharad Pawar and Ajit Singh are reportedly rooting for Mukherjee.
The UPA will have just 48% of the vote bank if the TMC decides to oppose or abstain from the Presidential vote.
4.22pm: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has arrived at 10 Janpath in Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi.
4:15 pm: TMC chief Mamata Banerjee says she is going to meet Sonia Gandhi and after the meeting will decide if there is anything to tell the press about choosing a candidate for Presidential election.
“I am going to meet Sonia-ji because she wanted to discuss something with me,” she said.
She also denied that the tax moratorium they are seeking for West Bengal is linked in any way to the Presidential polls.
“It is a planted game….They are humiliating us like this,” a furious Mamata says adding that she never sought a financial relief package for West Bengal.
“It is going on for one year and it has nothing to do with Presidency…whenever I come to Delhi people link two issues,” she said.
Saying that the Presidential polls is a separate issue, the West Bengal Chief Minister said that they did not sent state Finance Minister Amit Mitra to Delhi to seek a financial package.
“If Prime Minister or Sonia Gandhi tells me to come to Delhi then I will come, it is decorum,” she says.
“It is a valueless, careless decoration, it is a plantation of some rumour. It is bad and I condemn it,” Mamata says before storming off.
3.42pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to meet Trinamool head Mamata Banerjee, after the latter’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
2.07pm: The PMO has reportedly called West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and told her that the Prime Minister would like to meet her. The meeting comes as the Congress party attempts to build consensus around its Presidential candidate.
Banerjee is due to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi at 4.30pm in this regard.
Meanwhile in other developments, CNN IBN quoting sources, reported that the Samajawadi Party had said that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was their preferred candidate for the post. There have been informal talks between the Congress and Samajwadi Party on the issue, the report added.
“Sources told CNN-IBN that Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will meet SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav right after meeting UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi”, the report said.
11.40am: Mamata Banerjee who met Samajawadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav last evening, has reportedly scheduled another meeting with him for this afternoon ahead of her crucial meet with Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Soon after her arrival in the national capital on Tuesday, the Trinamool Congress chief headed to the residence of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to discuss the strategy for the Presidential poll.
Following the meeting, the Trinamool Congress chief said, “We did have talks but no names were discussed.”
10.23am: The latest reports emerging state that Mamata Banerjee will meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi at 4.30pm today. It is likely that the Congress will announce the UPA candidate shortly after the meeting is concluded.
10:00am: CNN IBN reports that Congress leader Karan Singh could be one of the dark horses for the post of President. Another name that has suddenly made an appearance is that of relatively unknown Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai. Will she be a surprise candidate like President Pratibha Patil?
Former Communist party leader Somnath Chatterjee is also finding mention in the race though it’s unlikely he will find the same kind of political support as Pranab Mukherjee with Mamata Banerjee or the Left after his acrimonious departure.
Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Meira Kumar may also be in the running thanks to Mamata Banerjee’s open support for them. However, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi still holds the cards and she isn’t revealing them yet.
8:55 am: With TMC leader Mamata Banerjee in town for discussions with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, chances are that the UPA candidate will be finally revealed to the public. Speculation in the media has narrowed the list of UPA candidates down to Vice President Hamid Ansari and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee unless Gandhi pulls out another surprise candidate like President Pratibha Patil.
With the Congress party following the traditional path of deferring the decision on the presidential candidate to party president Sonia Gandhi, reports indicated she is expected to reveal her decision by this week. She has been holding talks with key UPA allies in a bid to build consensus for the final candidate.
She has already held discussions with DMK chief Karunanidhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and RLD chief Ajit Singh in this regard.
Speculation about Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee emerging as the Congress candidate for presidential elections grew on Sunday with a senior party leader from West Bengal rooting for him and appealing to party ally Trinamool Congress to support his candidature.
State Irrigation Minister Manas Bhunia, who has earlier headed the Congress’ West Bengal unit, said that Mukherjee was the most apt choice for the post but added that the final decision had to be taken by the party’s central leadership.
Reports also emerged that Mukherjee had canceled a scheduled trip to Kabul for 14 June as he had wanted to be in the country when the nominee was announced. The Finance Minister has been typically noncommittal about the issue but reports stated that the Prime Minister may already be prepared to take over the ministry under Mukherjee’ s charge.
The BJP has also reportedly pushed for its senior leader Jaswant Singh to be made Vice President. The BJP is reportedly willing to support the UPA candidate for President if Singh is made his deputy. Singh met with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh yesterday.