New Delhi:  Congress on Monday remained non-committal on the Presidential nominee even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is widely speculated to be the party's and the UPA's candidate for the top post.

"The office of President is an august office, which should not be brought into the realm of unnecessary speculation. Whenever there is anything to share with you, we will do it," was the refrain of Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari to repeated questions from reporters in this regard.

When told that the allies have already begun naming the candidates and opining on their eligibility for the top job especially Pranab Mukherjee, Tewari said he won't comment on their views as they are independent entities and they must be having their own understanding of any particular issue.

"If at all there is something, we will come out to tell you. Has the formal process to elect the next President of India commenced. Even Congress President Sonia Gandhi has advocated patience," he said. Meanwhile, sources in the Congress indicated the next President will be a Congress nominee as it has the largest number in the electoral college for President.

However, the party is likely to project the person from the very outset as a UPA candidate and will be naming only after a broad consensus with constituents and parties supporting the coalition emerges.

"Ultimately you pick up, who has the broadest consensus. We are taking cognizance of the views being expressed. The situation keeps evolving," a party leader said.

The Congress refused to come out with a name even as BJP leader Yashwant Sinha in Lok Sabha on Monday applauded the Finance Minister in anticipation of his moving to the "big house" though BJP has not yet taken an official position on Mukherjee's candidature for Presidential poll.

A smiling Mukherjee watched as Sinha, followed by a few other members in the Lok Sabha, suggested that they were expecting him to become the next President.

As Sinha, himself a former Finance Minister, said Mukherjee perhaps won't be there to reply to certain suggestions made by the Parliamentary panel on Finance, the Finance Minister shot back: "Are you determined to remove me from the Finance Ministry?"

B Mahtab (BJP) hoped to see Mukherjee during the next Budget session "walk down the Central Hall and address joint sitting." Expressing similar sentiments, Hukum Dev Narain Yadav (BJP) said he wanted Mukherjee to address the joint sitting at the beginning of Budget session next year. Shailendra Kumar (SP) too wished Mukherjee well.

UPA constituent DMK has already endorsed Mukherjee's name for the post of President with M Karunanidhi saying that his party won't have a problem in backing Mukherjee's candidature if he was the UPA candidate. NCP has also expressed similar views, while NDA ally JD-U said both Mukherjee and Ansari are good candidates.


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