New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday said he was "deeply honoured" that he had been chosen as a candidate for the president's post and appealed to all parties, including Trinamool Congress, to support him.
"We have requested and appealed to all political parties to lend their support," Mukherjee told reporters after his name was proposed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in a meeting at the prime minister's residence.
When asked whether his appeal was for Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too, the seasoned Congress leader said she was like his "sister".
"I also seek the support of Mamata Banerjee because she is like my sister," he said.
The Trinamool Congress chief, along with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, had two days ago proposed the names of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chaterjee for the top post, virtually rejecting Mukherjee's name, who was the Congress nominee.
Accepting the candidature with "humility", Mukherjee said that he was grateful to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who proposed his name.
"I accept this offer with all humility. In my long political career spanning over five decades, I have been fortunate to receive love, affection and confidence of my party colleagues and also members and leaders of other parties," he said.
"I'm deeply indebted to them. I'll now again seek their indulgence and support for the next few weeks," he said.
On being asked who would be the next finance minister, Mukherjee said the prime minister and the Congress president would decide that.
"I don't think that I'm the repository of all knowledge and expertise in our government. In our party, there are a number of people who can handle the difficulties and the economic situation.
The PM (prime minister) himself is an eminent economist and under him, we'll overcome the temporary crisis," he said, when asked who would take his position in Congress since he was considered to be the party's trouble-shooter.
Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is offered a shawl by DMK leader TR Baalu as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on after Pranab's name was announced as United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) Presidential candidate in New Delhi on Friday.