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Congress farewell for Pranab on Monday

Last updated on: June 24, 2012 20:40 IST

Capping a long and distinguished political career, senior congress leader Pranab Mukherjee is all set to say a farewell to active politics now that it is clear that he would be the next occupant of the sprawling and opulent Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Monday, June 25 at 11 am to bid a formal and fond farewell to Mukherjee from the Congress party and from active politics.

The meeting of the CWC will formally and officially put on record the party's gratitude for the services delivered by Mukherjee to both the party and the government and the stellar role he has played in the last 8 years of steering the UPA out of its myriad political crisis from time to time and giving a middle of the road approach to the extreme reformist tendencies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Speakers are expected to eulogise Mukherjee's contribution to the Congress and the lead in this would be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On June 26, Mukherjee would resign from the government where he is currently the finance minister and is expected to sever ties with the Congress when he resigns from the party as well.

As the official candidate of the UPA, Mukherjee would file his nomination papers on June 28 in the presence of the Congress president and the prime minister along with leaders and representatives of the allies, who are supporting him in his bid for the presidentship.

From the UPA, Mamata Banerjee, who has been unhappy with Mukherjee's nomination, has so far not signified what her approach to the election is going to be. But with the Congress having taken the bull by the horns and ignored her stated desires and wishes, Banerjee has to take a decision to support Mukherjee if she wishes to remain in the UPA.

She cannot be a part of the government and yet vote for a National Democratic Alliance candidate.

Politically, Banerjee would have to decide whether she wants to keep her alliance with the Congress intact or go her separate way.

Congress sources say that finally Banerjee would fall in line and support Mukherjee as she cannot afford to alienate the Bengali sentiment (it is for the first time that the state is getting a Bengali President).

Congress leaders from West Bengal are agitated and want the alliance with Banerjee terminated but the AICC leaders have asked them to hold their horses till the president and vice presidential elections are over after which the party would take a call on how far to go with the Trinamool.

Sources say that the West Bengal chief minister also fears that a substantial section of her party may cross vote in favour of Mukherjee in the event that she decides not to support him.

Interestingly, the Congress has broken through the NDA with the JD-U and the Shiv Sena voting in favour of Mukherjee.

Along with this sections of the Akali Dal, the BJP and the BJD also want to vote in favour of Mukherjee, which would spell bad news for the NDA as at the moment it stands as a truncated house with the BJP's own leaders like Yeddyurappa and Maneka Gandhi speaking in favour of voting for Mukherjee.

It is also significant that while the BJP has decided to support P A Sangma, party president Nitin Gadkari has not issued any statement or appeal asking parties to vote for him.

Sources in the Congress say that the presidential polls would serve as a big morale booster for the party.

An AICC office bearer said that the political message of the presidential poll would be that the party is getting more and more allies and making new friends while the BJP is not able to hold on to its own friends and allies.

Congress leaders say it would have been more sensible for the BJP not to support Sangma and thus avoid being exposed in the manner in which it has been

A Delhi Correspondent