Home India Politics Pranab scotches rumours of candidature for president

Pranab scotches rumours of candidature for president


New Delhi : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday clarified that he was not a contestant for the presidential election next month, even as a fresh round of speculations started over his possible candidature.

"In the context of the forthcoming Presidential election, a number of speculative and tendentious stories involving my name have appeared in the print and electronic media," Mukherjee said in a statement, his second on the issue in one month.

"While I am grateful for the trust and confidence placed in me by some leaders, I reiterate that my role in the party and government is decided by the Congress leadership," he said.

"There is no room for any further speculation in this matter."

Mukherjee's name started doing rounds again after the Left leaders held a second meeting Tuesday evening, reiterating their disapproval of Home Minister Shivraj Patil as the candidate of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

After the meeting, Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas reiterated the Left parties' stated preference for Mukherjee.

The attitude of the Left parties fuelled speculations that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was under pressure to replace Patil with Mukherjee.

According to informed sources, Mukherjee issued a clarification, feeling such speculations would create doubt and suspicion in the mind of the Congress president.

The minister said Sonia Gandhi will announce the name of the Congress candidate after consultations with allies and supporting parties and expressed confidence that her decision will have full support by "all our allies and partners".

Meanwhile, seeing the confusion in the UPA ranks, the leaders of the main opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) decided to postpone their meeting to June 18.

"Let them (UPA) first announce their candidate, only then we can decide our course of action," said Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav.

Meanwhile, sources said the 'third front' of eight parties, launched this month, was also considering nominating its own candidate for the post. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah's name was doing rounds as its candidate. Abdullah, however, could not be contacted for comment.

The Election Commission Wednesday announced that elections to pick the next president will take place July 19 and the votes will be counted two days later.