Mamata names Kalam, dares Congress

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 15:52 hrs

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she is not afraid of anyone and named former President A P J Abdul Kalam as their 'number one' candidate for the post of president.

"I am not scared of anyone," Mamata told reporters Thursday after daylong drama over the issue and allegations and counter allegations.

"Kalam is our number one candidate. He is a good candidate," she said.

Mamata said she will not leave United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but it is up to the Congress to decide whether she will continue to be part of it.

"I am not leaving UPA. If they want to leave me they can. The ball is in the court of the Congress," Mamata told reporters on Thursday.

"I do not to leave UPA or topple the government," she said, adding that she is not the one to be kowtowed by Congress.

Pertinently, TMC is a key ally of the UPA.

On Wednesday evening, Mamata and Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a bombshell by naming Singh as one of their choices for the post of President.

They also pitched the names of former President A P J Abdul Kalam (a choice of the rival BJP) and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their choices for the titular post.

Political observers said the move is seen as Mamata´s deep-rooted opposition to Mukherjee, who is the first choice of Congress, followed by Vice President Hamid Ansari for the Presidential seat.

She said she will not be attending the UPA meeting on Friday.

Mamata said she will meet Mulayam on Thursday.

The Congress on Thursday slammed Mamata and Mulayam for naming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a candidate for the Presidential election.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Congress leader Ambika Soni said: " It is something that simply does not make any political or ethical sense."

"It was disrespectful of them to name him (Manmohan Singh) for the post of President. It was unbecoming of them," she said.

"Without any consultation how can someone name him for the post of President," she said.

The Congress also said Manmohan Singh will remain the Prime Minister of India till 2014.

"We have said that Manmohan Singh will remain Prime Minister till 2014," Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told media on Thursday.

TMC, however, said party supremo Mamata Banerjee shared information on Presidential election only after taking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi´s consent on the issue.

Gandhi met Mamata on Wednesday in New Delhi over the presidential poll.

"Mamta Banerjee spoke about the meeting after taking Sonia Gandhi´s consent," said TMC MP Kunal Ghosh.

"It is not at all correct to say that Mamata Banerjee broke any decorum," he said.

More from Sify: