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Mamata falls in UPA line, backs Pranab for President
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KOLKATA, July 17(Agencies): In a complete U-turn which ended a month-long suspense, the Trinamool Congress announced its decision to vote for UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee 'in the interest of coalition'.

After proposing the name of A P J Abdul Kalam and two others a month ago creating a near crisis for the UPA government, Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today disclosed the party's decision saying it had no other option but to support Mukherjee.

Prez election: Cong welcomes Trinamool's support to Pranab

The decision of the party, the second largest constituent in the UPA with 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha, comes apparently under pressure from within the party to back Mukherjee, who would be the first Bengali to become a President, and not to ignore local sentiments.

BJP takes a dig at Mamata for deciding to back Pranab

"We have taken the decision with pain and not from our heart. We have taken the decision without any provocation or financial deal," Banerjee told the media after a meeting of party leaders.

She made a bare reference to Bengali origins of the UPA candidate, saying: "Pranabda is from Bengal but we have taken the decision due to our commitment to the people."

The Trinamool decision was immediately welcomed by the Congress in Delhi and by Mukherjee's son Abhijit, an MLA in West Bengal.

Asked why her party has chosen to support Mukherjee with whom she has blown hot and cold in the recent past, Banerjee said: "We took the decision in the interest of the UPA coalition and in greater national interest and keeping in mind the people's interests.

We are not supporting any individual. But we have no option. It is a tough decision we have taken but not to please anyone. We took the decision reluctantly. The pleasure we would have got is missing in our decision today."

She said, "If we had abstained from voting it would have been a plus for Pranab Mukherjee. If we vote, then also it would be a plus for him. We had no other option."

With the Trinamool, Mukherjee has the support of nearly 7 lakh vote value in an electoral college of nearly 11 lakh. Apart from UPA partners, he also has the support of CPI(M) and Forward Bloc and BJP allies JD(U) and Shiv Sena.

But Mamata being Mamata, she refused to name who she would support for the Vice President elections, saying that decision will come later. The UPA is backing Hamid Ansari for a second term while the NDA has put up BJP veteran Jaswant Singh.

In June, Mamata had teamed up with SP chief Mulayam Singh to declare her own list of preferred candidates which included former President APJ Abdul Kalam, former CPM chief Somnath Chatterjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The UPA took 24 hours to break that pact as Mulayam Singh endorsed Pranab Mukherjee the very next day, isolating Mamata.

Mamata has also tried to put up former Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the post of V-P but he has declined.

News Updated at : Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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