Bengal exults at Pranab's candidature

Bengal exults at Pranab's candidature

Having missed the bus 17 years ago when Jyoti Basu could not become the prime minister following objections form his own party, West Bengal Friday hailed the nomination of another son of the soil, Pranab Mukherjee, as candidate for the nation's presidency.

It is the first time that the state may get one of its home-bred personalities in the highest office of the country, with political parties now seemingly in a scramble to announce their support for the politician who is respected for his administrative ability and crisis management skills.

The West Bengal Pradesh Congress was ecstatic. "It is a proud moment for Bengal. It is a proud moment for all of us," said state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya, soon after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance nominated the union finance minister as the coalition's candidate for the top post.

Mukherjee's nomination seemed to have bridged many a political divide. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tathagata Roy, known to be a hardliner, said: "It is for our party's central leadership to decide its stand on the polls. But personally speaking, I can say that as a Bengali, I feel good".

Annapurna Dasgupta, a homemaker, was happy too. "Bangla never got its due earlier. At last, somebody from my state will get to the high post. That's great," said the 73-year-old.

Her daughter-in-law Sanghita, a teacher, was equally happy, despite admitting that she had a soft corner for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam too. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata banerjee has projected Kalam, a former president, as her candidate for the highest post.

"Pranab babu is a good choice. He is intelligent. I have heard he has a great memory. I will be happy if he becomes president. And compared to Hamid Ansari I prefer Pranab. But I will be in a dilemma if Kalam also joins the race," she said.

Former Bengal Ranji Trophy winning captain Sambaran Banerjee said: "It is the first time that a person form Bengal will become the first citizen. In 1996, Jyoti Basu was on the threshold of becoming prime minister, but his party, the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist), did not agree.

"I had felt very bad then. I had tears in my eyes. But today I feel proud and happy," said the former cricketer.

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