New Prez on July 22
Polling on July 19; hectic political parleys afoot
The Election Commission on Tuesday said polling for selection of new President will take place on July 19 and the results will be out on July 22, as political parties continued hectic efforts to reach consensus on the candidate.
Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath told the media that June 30 will be the last date for filing nomination and the commission would issue notification on June 16.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will meet key ally Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday to take a call on the issue. Gandhi called up the Trinamool Congress leader on Tuesday and asked her to come over to Delhi to discuss the issue.
The Congress appeared relaxed as Banerjee, its largest partner in the UPA, dropped its insistence on linking the financial package for West Bengal to supporting UPA’s Presidential nominee. Banerjee called on Mulayam shortly after her arrival in the Capital.
The Congress has not finalised its candidate though Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is seen as the front-runner. Parties such as SP and NCP have hinted at supporting him, but Banerjee had recently announced that she would not support his candidature. The NCP said on Tuesday that the “seniormost” politician should be the President indicating, they are game with Mukherjee.
Reports emanating from Kolkata suggested that Banerjee mellowed down because it would not be wise on her part to oppose a Bengali from becoming President. However, Mamata will wait for the Congress to announce its candidate.
In an interesting development on Tuesday, BJP leader Jaswant Singh called on the SP chief amid speculation that the former external affairs minister in the NDA government was pushing his candidature for Vice President’s post which will fall vacant next month. The BJP MP joined Mulayam and yoga guru Baba Ramdev apparently for a discussion on black money and was with them for over 15 minutes, amid speculation that the BJP may settle for Jaswant Singh elected as Vice President for supporting the UPA candidate.
Neither Jaswant nor the BJP would confirm the reports. The party and the alliance it heads, the NDA, are yet take a stand on the Presidential polls and are waiting for the Congress to make the first move.