Mamata plays pivot in presidential talk

Mamata plays pivot in presidential talk

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Wednesday emerged as a pivotal figure in deciding a consensus presidential candidate as she flitted in and out of meetings in government bungalows in central Delhi with key Congress and ally leaders.

Banerjee, who reached New Delhi Tuesday night, will be meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Wednesday afternoon at the latter’s residence at 10 Janpath. This meeting could well seal the decision on the presidential candidate.

Immediately after meeting Gandhi, she will again visit Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav a second time. Banerjee, who had met Mulayam Singh Tuesday night soon after arriving in the capital, indicated that the two leaders were likely to talk again.

The SP chief also told reporters Wednesday that he would consult the Trinamool Congress on the presidential candidate. He has maintained that the party will take a call only after Congress announces its own candidate.

The two regional parties, which cherish national ambitions, are key to the success of the Congress nominee in the presidential polls.

In the evening, Banerjee is also likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The flurry of meetings is an indication of a larger deal-making taking place between the Congress and its key allies, especially the Trinamool, that is bargaining for a financial bailout from the government in exchange for its political support to Congress and government moves.

Although, union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is by all indications the front-runner, some dark horse could well emerge out of the political confabulations, depending of course on the bargaining power of each party.

But Banerjee's centrality to the discussions was very evident and she was enjoying every bit of the spotlight on her, even though she revealed nothing to the media.

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