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Mamata's Prez choice to define her future with UPA

July 14, 2012 02:48 IST

Mamata Banerjee's fate in the United Progressive Alliance hangs in the balance with the Trinamool Congress leader continuing to give a loud and clear message that her party is not going to vote for Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA's Presidential candidate.

Banerjee has refused to attend the July 18 dinner being hosted by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for UPA MPs in support of Pranab Mukherjee with the voting for the Presidential election to take place on July 19.

Trinamool leaders said Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel called Mamata Banerjee with the invite but she has turned it down citing preoccupation with a rally to be addressed by her a few days later.

Mamata has, however, agreed to send Union Railway Minister Mukul Roy to represent her at Saturday's meeting to discuss the UPA's candidate for the post of Vice President.

Sources say Mamata is also displeased since she is not in favour of supporting Hamid Ansari for the coveted post. There are indications that after proposing a few names sent by Mamata Banerjee, Mukul Roy may walk out of the meeting.

Sources also say that Mamata Banerjee may give a call for a conscience vote which is her way of not openly opposing the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee but internally she may ask her party MLAs and MPs to vote for P A Sangma.

While it is a secret vote, there are indications that a number of her party MPs and MLAs may vote for Pranab da since many have met him secretly over the last few weeks.

Pranab Mukherjee has also written to Trinamool MPs and MLAs asking them to vote for him, but it is not known whether such a letter has gone to Mamata Banerjee also. Probably not, say sources, since Pranab Mukherjee is not inclined to either meet her or call her till the time she gives an assurance that her party would be supporting him.

Within the Congress the demarcation is very clear. If Mamata does not vote and support the UPA's official Presidential candidate, then what right do her ministers have to remain in the Union Cabinet? This question would be asked in a more magnified form after the Presidential election. 

Sources in the Congress say that Sonia Gandhi has also been asking irate partymen from West Bengal to hold their horses till the Presidential election, after which the party would move against her if she does not extend support. 

Indications are that like many other parties, the Trinamool could also become fractured on the issue of voting for Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election. While there are cracks in the Biju Janata Dal on this issue, with many of its MLAs wanting to support Pranab Mukherjee, Telangana MPs and MLAs are also in his support.

From Andhra Pradesh Jagan Mohan Reddy's loyalists are also likely to vote in favour of Pranab Mukherjee.

But the most interesting is Chandrababu Naidu whose party -- the Telugu Desam Party -- has yet not taken a decision on whether to support Mukherjee or Sangma.

Sources say they are inclined to support Mukherjee but do not want to give the signal that they are voting for the Congress or supporting the UPA government. A decision is likely to be taken by Naidu in the next few days.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi