Sonia's lunch presents picture of UPA unity

Sonia's lunch presents picture of UPA unity

The ruling UPA managed to present a picture of unity Wednesday at a lunch hosted by its chairperson Sonia Gandhi ahead of the presidential poll with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee sending her party representatives to the showpiece event. 

Trinamool MPs K.D. Singh and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy represented the party at the lunch after Banerjee Tuesday declared her party's support to United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the poll.   

K.D. Singh said he was asked by the party to attend the lunch. “We have abided by coalition dharma,” he told reporters after the lunch. 

The lunch was also attended by MPs from other parties in the UPA including the DMK, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Nationalist Congress Party and those supporting it from outside including Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party. 

While representation from Trinamool was relatively low-key, other parties were represented by senior leaders. 

Former Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada also attended the lunch. Also present were several union ministers.

An MP told IANS on conditions of anonymity that Sonia Gandhi, also the Congress party president, was looking “happy and relieved”.

Mamata Banerjee, whose party shares power with the Congress in West Bengal and at the centre, had kept the Congress guessing about her intentions till Tuesday evening. 

Even as she announced her party's support to Mukherjee, the West Bengal chief minister called the decision “painful” and that she was left with no other option.

Trinamool sources said the party was also likely to support UPA candidate Hamid Ansari in the vice-presidential elections.

They said most of the Trinamool MPs will cast their votes in presidential election in Kolkata. 

Congress MPs are likely to cast their vote in the national capital.

With Trinamool backing Mukherjee, he can get a total of around 735,000 votes from the electoral college made up of MPs and legislators. 

The National Democratic Alliance-backed candidate Purno Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker, can count on about 313,000 votes. 

Voting for the presidential poll will take place Thursday and counting of votes Sunday. 

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