With no consensus still being achieved over the presidential candidate, the crucial UPA meet will be held here on Friday to decide on the choice for the coveted post of the country.
According to reports, the Congress Core Group, which met at the residence of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here on Thursday evening, is expected to formally endorse the name of Finance Mukherjee Pranab Mukherjee as the alliance candidate.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee today said former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is the first choice for the coveted post.
Mamata Banerjee defended the names as proposed by her along with Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying it is not a local election and the names recommended are of the stature to become the President of India.
Further warning the Centre, Banerjee said that she has not threatened anyone and does not intend to topple the UPA Government.
Mamata further said that she would not be attending the UPA meeting scheduled on Friday.
Both Mamata and Mulayam had on Wednesday evening announced the names of former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their preferred choices for the July 19 presidential poll.
The Congress Party earlier in the day ruled out sparing Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for the presidential race, as it rejected the three names proposed by the two allies, sending signals that it was not in a mood to bow before them.
"Manmohan Singh will stay prime minister till 2014. We cannot afford to spare Manmohan Singh," said Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi.
Dwivedi also said that the names of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former President APJ Abdul Kalam as proposed by Mamata and Mulayam were not acceptable to the Congress.
He further said that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari were the party's preferred choices and would continue to remain so.
Trinamool Congress, with 19 members in the Lok Sabha, is the largest constituent of UPA after the Congress. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party, which has 22 members in the Lok Sabha, is an outside supporter of the ruling alliance.
A fresh round of consultations on the issue of selection of a presidential nominee is taking place in the UPA, after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) authorised UPA chairperson Gandhi to decide on the candidates for the coming presidential and vice presidential elections.
With key allies rejecting her choice for president, Gandhi was huddled in meetings with senior leaders and allies to zero in on a consensus candidate. resident Pratibha Devisingh Patil's term ends on July 24. (ANI)