UPA may finalise presidential candidate this week


New Delhi : The ruling Congress and its allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) are expected to finalise their candidate for president in the next few days.

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will hold separate discussions with the leaders of UPA as all the crucial ally leaders are in town.

"The UPA will hold discussions today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) as its leaders are in the national capital to attend the NDC (National Development Council) meeting," said a Left leader.

The Congress leadership is expected to discuss the presidential elections with DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad to finalise the ruling coalition's candidate.

Karunanidhi met Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Pawar and Sonia Gandhi Monday morning.

The CPI-M-led Left Front, which supports the UPA government from outside, has announced it would support the coalition's candidate but said the person should have a "political background and firm secular credentials".

It also said the future president must be able to "exercise judgement to maintain the balance between parliament, the executive and judiciary".

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, whose party holds the key to who would be the next president, had also held talks with the prime minister and Gandhi and indicated that her party would support the UPA candidate for the top post.