Stalin, Balu meet Sonia over Prez election

With both the ruling and opposition parties yet to find a common grounds on the candidates for the forthcoming Presidential elections, leaders of the DMK on Thursday have thrown their weight behind the candidacy of Pranab Mukherjee.

T R Balu, the DMK Parliamentary party leader and former Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin were believed to have expressed support for Mukherjee during their meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

But even as the UPA constituents coming out in support of Mukherjee, the Congress is maintaining silence over the issue, giving rise to speculations that it may throw up a surprise candidate at the last minute.

After they met with the Prime Minister at the South Block, the leaders of one of UPA’s important constituents called on Ms Gandhi to discuss the candidacy issue.

Hectic parleys

Briefing reporters on the meetings, Stalin said the DMK is firm on its support to Mukherjee’s candidacy.

He said DMK president M Karunanidhi had conveyed to Defence Minister A K Antony during their meeting in Chennai that he had no objections should the UPA field Mukherjee as its candidate.

Gandhi last month had dispatched Antony to Chennai to seek Karunanidhi’s opinion on the election issue.

At the recently held Congress Working Committee meeting, the party had authorized its president Sonia Gandhi to identify a person for the presidential election.

The UPA chairperson has been holding hectic parleys with UPA constituents to bring a consensus on the Presidential candidate.

Prior to her meeting with civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday, she had also held talks with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Mukherjee's candidature issue.

The RLD leader had openly endorsed Mukherjee’s candidacy, saying that he is “qualified” to hold the constitutional position.

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