The race for vice presidential post in the UPA has taken a new turn with Trinamool Congress not sharing Congress' enthusiasm for a second term for incumbent Hamid Ansari and is keen on proposing former Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Like in the Presidential election, Trinamool Congress, which sought to put a spanner in the UPA choice of Pranab Mukherjee, plans to convey its preference for Gandhi at a meeting of the UPA constituents on the issue on Saturday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has stepped up efforts to seek a consensus on Ansari's name by talking to leaders of non-UPA parties like JD(S), CPI(M) and CPI, spoke to Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday, seeking support for Ansari.
Banerjee, who has been keeping away from Delhi for about a month after the Congress rejected her choice of Presidential candidates and is yet to declare her party's support to Mukherjee, has deputed Railway Minister Mukul Roy for the meeting.
Roy may propose Gandhi's name along with that of Krishna Bose, former Lok Sabha member and niece of Subhas Chandra Bose as the Trinamool choice for the Vice President's post.
The Trinamool Congress, the second largest constituent of the UPA with 28 MPs in both the Houses of Parliament, is keeping its cards close to its chest.
However, the UPA is comfortably placed in the electoral college comprising 790 MPs. With the backing of outside supporters like SP and BSP, the UPA has over 500 MPs on its side.
But UPA sources maintained that Ansari, who is said to have missed being nominated for the Presidential post, remained the only choice for the ruling alliance for the Vice President's post.
NCP sources said the Prime Minister had spoken to the party chief Sharad Pawar twice and only Ansari's name cropped up during the discussions.