» News » Desire for early poll may be behind Mamata's shocker

Desire for early poll may be behind Mamata's shocker

By Sheela Bhatt
June 14, 2012 00:29 IST
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Once the tremors of Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav's political shock dies down, they will return for fresh negotiations with the Congress, notes Sheela Bhatt.

The crisis-ridden Congress party will consider a new name for the July 19 Presidential election for its allies' consideration, party sources told

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee claimed on Wednesday that Congress party President  Sonia Gandhi had given her the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari for her to choose as the United Progressive Alliance candidate for the Presidential election.

The Trinamool Congress is part of the Congress-led UPA.

Banerjee, along with Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, in turn floated three names that include Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as India's next President. 

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's name was just for the record, and not seriously in contention. Banerjee had defeated Chatterjee in the 1984 Lok Sabha election in West Bengal, first drawing national attention.

Also, former President A P J Abdul Kalam's name was cited to balance out Banerjee and Yadav's rejection of Ansari's candidature.

Yadav recommended that the prime minister's name be included on Banerjee's list of likely Presidential nominees.

He rejected her suggestion to include former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's names on the list.

Some Congress leaders suspect that the anti-Manmohan Singh lobby in the party forced Yadav's hand. Yadav backs Pranab Mukherjee for the prime minister's post.

It is well known that Yadav is worried about the disproportionate assets case against him and members of his family in the Supreme Court. 

After he provided his Samajwadi Party's crucial support to Dr Singh during the trust vote on the India-US nuclear deal in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008, Yadav believes he has not got what he wanted in return.

Yadav has reminded Dr Singh of this by adding the prime minister's name to the roster of Presidential hopefuls.

In all likelihood, once the tremors of Banerjee and Yadav's political shock die down, both leaders will return for fresh negotiations with the Congress leadership.

There is no way Yadav will go with the Bharatiya Janata Party on this issue, but he has delivered the first blow to the Congress.

There is little doubt that today was Banerjee's day. The West Bengal chief minister appears to have taken Yadav for a ride. Congress leaders are not surprised by what Banerjee did, but they are surprised to see Yadav meekly following the Bengal leader's cues, that too in the full glare of the media.

All is not all lost for the Congress. The party will come up with a new name as its Presidential candidate and hold fresh negotiations with the Trinamool Congress supremo.

Banerjee has aimed big, staked her image and shown guts. It is clear she gives a damn if the UPA government is destabilised by her bid to get her candidate elected as President.

Political commentator Coomi Kapoor believes Banerjee's moves have shaken the government. "The
government has entered a risk zone," notes Kapoor.

Banerjee may be all set for an early general election. She will be brazen in the Presidential game because she has nothing to lose.

Dinesh Trivedi, the former railway minister and Trinamool Congress MP, says, "It is a sham of Indian democracy that the country's first citizen is being selected through such shameful bargaining."

Congress sources say the party has known for many weeks that Banerjee would not accept any Congress-backed candidate.

When asked why was the meeting then arranged between Sonia Gandhi and Banerjee on Wednesday, a Congress source said, "We didn't want Mamata to have an excuse that she was not consulted."

A government source believes the entire drama over the Presidential election is provoked by Banerjee's desire for an early general election. If the current UPA regime persists in office, she wants a bigger stake to continue her support to the ruling alliance.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi