Mamata elects Pranab

Giving a pleasant surprise to the Congress on Tuesday, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee for the presidential election to be held on 19 July.

She took the decision at a meeting held in Kolkata, where she said, 'We did not have a choice. We are supporting him individually. It is a political decision.' Banerjee mentioned that she had already spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and informed him of the Trinamool Congress' decision.

Millennium Post had indicated a similar development on 16 July in a report titled
Pranab formally appeals to Mamata for support: Is a change of heart in the offing before the presidential election?

Read 16 July report here.

The indication has now turned into a reality.

An elated Congress reacted happily to this piece of news. Its spokesperson Manish Tewari said, 'We thank all parties which have supported Pranab Mukherjee. The Trinamool Congress is supporting him and we are grateful.'

The sources in the Congress say that its top leadership realised that Banerjee was a reliable ally, unlike the Samajwadi Party and the Bahaujan Samaj Party, as they have demanded their pound of flesh in lieu of the support for Mukherjee. While the Congress realised eventually that Banerjee had genuine grouses and did not believe in promoting personal agenda, unlike the other UPA allies which wanted favours for industrial houses or a clean chit from the Central Bureau of Investigation in past cases.

On the request of Banerjee, the railways minister Mukul Roy had been in constant touch with the Congress, which in turn played a positive role by sending Banerjee's party the right feelers, eventually prompting her to announce her support for Mukherjee. A source adds that Banerjee is hopeful that after Mukherjee shifts to the Rashtrapati Bhawan her demands for a financial package for West Bengal will be considered positively by the Congress.

Interestingly, in the time Banerjee took to decide on her support in the presidential election, a few Bharatiya Janata Party leaders tried to contact her. Her refusal to entertain them gave the much-needed assurance to the Congress that she was not keen to join any other alliance.
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