UPA’s Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Monday scotched rumours of his impending meeting with TMC chief Mamata Banerjee to solicit her support for his candidacy.
Following his meeting with the Congress, CPM and the Forward Bloc legislators at the state Assembly, the veteran Congressman made it clear that he had no plans to bow before Didi for securing her backing. “I am ready to talk to her as and when she is ready to talk to me. Since my candidature was announced I have expressed my desire to have the support of the TMC...I understand they (TMC) have not yet taken a decision and that they will take a decision at an appropriate time,” he said.
Even though several senior Congress leaders, including Union HRD and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had appealed to Mamata for her support, Pranab has refused to take the initiative in this regard.
Meanwhile, Mamata is likely to announce her decision three days before July 19 when the Presidential poll is scheduled to take place. And she is said to have asked all her party MLAs and MPs to be present in the House on the day of the voting.
With Pranab unwilling to play ball, the TMC has upped the ante with several of its ministers speaking out against him and even going to the extent of calling him “a close friend” of the Communists. “First comes Bengal’s interest, then everything else. Individual interests do not matter,” said Partha Chatterjee, Industries and Commerce Minister.
Dada has toured Kolkata to campaign for his candidature and to thank the parties which had extended their support to him. “He (Pranab) thanked us for our support and we thanked him for coming together with us...We expect him to protect the statutes of the Constitution,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of Opposition.
During his visit to the state Assembly, Pranab recalled his half-a-decade-long political career. “It was on July 4, 1969 that I was first elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal. Along with me, five other people were also elected. This Council Hall from where I am addressing you now was the place when I was given my first Election Certificate,” he reminisced.
The veteran Congressman also dwelt on the close relationship shared by the politicians and media saying, “The relation between politicians and journalists is like the one between fish and water. Just as fish can’t live without water, our professional careers are also intrinsically linked...During this long time, I have made lots of mistakes. I have scolded you; I have not answered your questions. I know you must have felt bad. I am sorry for all that,” he said.