Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party head Mulayam Singh Yadav today flung a political googly into the race for Raisina Hill as the duo suggested the names of former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former president APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as their choices for next President.
"After discussing with my sister Mamata Banerjee, we have decided that either Somnath Chatterjee, APJ Abdul Kalam or Manmohan Singh should be the next president," Yadav told a crowded press conference at his residence in New Delhi.
Banerjee, who was also at the conference, said, "I appeal to the political circles to ponder on these names. The President should be an unanimous choice. This should be good for the country."
The announcement gave an unexpected turn to the presidential race as an hour ago Banerjee spelled out Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari as the Congress' choice for the country's highest constitutional post. She announced the Congress choices after meeting Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.
The new names will definitely give a hard time for the Congress as it was banking on Samajwadi Party to counter the unpredictable Trinamool Congress.
With the new names, the expected Raisina Hill address for Pranab Mukherjee has certainly taken a hit. Although Mukherjee's name was doing the rounds in political circles unofficially, Banerjee was comfortable with his candidature.
Ansari's name ran into trouble with the SP chief as he did not want a bureaucrat as president and was not happy with the idea of a Muslim from Uttar Pradesh occupying the country's highest post. This is primarily to keep his Yadav-Muslim political equation in Uttar Pradesh in tact.
In a first, the name of an incumbent Prime Minister has come up for the first time as a candidate for presidency.