Bhubaneswar: United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, who was in Odisha Wednesday evening to gather support for himself in the July 19 election, hoped that he would get the support of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Speaking to reporters before his departure for New Delhi, the former finance minister said some political parties have not yet taken the final decision regarding their support. “TMC is also like that and I understand the TMC leaders have stated that they will take a decision three-four days before the election. I am waiting for that. I am hopeful,” he said.
Responding to a question on the controversy over his resignation from the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Mukherjee said, “All these issues have to be debated, discussed in the appropriate forum that is the returning officer and those phases are over.” He said the election commission has also given a detailed report yesterday (Tuesday).
State Congressmen gave a rousing welcome to the former finance minister as he arrived at the Biju Patnaik Airport here in the evening for a brief tour.
Party leaders who welcomed Mukherjee at the airport included state Congress Chief Niranjan Patnaik, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Srikant Jena, All India Congress Committee general secretary and Odisha in-charge Jagdish Tytler and the state assembly’s Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh.
Mukherjee drove to the Congress office to address party legislators and MPs from the state. Several tribal Congress workers attired in tribal costumes performed dances and welcomed him with the beating of drums.
His campaign in Odisha for the July 19 presidential election carries significance as the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has announced support for his rival and former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also the chief of the BJD, was the first to announce the name of Sangma in May for the high post.
The Congress has only 27 members in the state’s 147-member assembly. It also claims to have the support of two independent legislators. It has from the state six members in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha.