“Nobody coerced me to take this decision, neither have I bowed down to any kind of pressure,” said West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, commenting on her sudden move to support UPA’s presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
But so intense was the pressure on Mamata that she finally toed the line and extended support to Mukherjee whom, by her own admission, she hasn’t spoken to in eight months. “I haven’t spoken to him (Pranab Mukherjee) in eight months… I don’t know what the reason is behind this. We didn’t have a fight,” said Banerjee.
However, as the election day drew closer, the Congress camp became more confident about its numbers having garnered the support of outside parties such as CPI(M), Forward Bloc, Shiv Sena, JD(U), SP and BSP. With the Trinamool Congress support seeming irrelevant, Didi’s declaration of support to Mukherjee, instead of the widely purported option of abstaining from voting, clearly showed that she wasn’t ready to quit the UPA just yet.
In a long-winded explanation of her decision, she clarified that there hadn’t been any brokering of deal with the Congress or any kind of pressure.
“We’ve never gotten into a deal and never will. We keep the people’s interests in mind… At least he (Pranab Mukherjee) is from Bengal. We wish him well,” said Banerjee, adding that she would decide on Vice-Presidential polls later. Banerjee had spoken to the UPA Chairperson a few days ago and had conveyed her decision to the PM on Tuesday morning.
She urged both parties to forget the past and said, “Our decision is a compulsion to the people. I don’t have any other options in hand but to follow parliamentary democracy, that’s why we had to go with Pranab Mukherjee. We wish Pranabda good luck. We were happy when he became the Finance Minister. We had honoured our pre-poll promise of supporting the UPA after the elections. Nobody asked us, but I along with Amit Mitra had gone to give the letter to Pranabda. That changed his career. I wish him good luck and long life. Let bygones be bygones. The old chapter is closed.”