New Delhi: Reaching out to Mamata Banerjee, UPA Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday heaped praise on the Trinamool Congress chief and asserted he does not have any "bitterness" towards her for not supporting his candidature.

"No, I am not hurt. I don't have any bitterness, because every political party has its own approach to a particular problem. She is, frankly speaking, entitled to hold on to her views....”

"I have no bitterness. Because she is so young, I have seen her grow up before my eyes and whatever she has achieved, it is her own achievement. She single handedly fought and achieved whatever she has achieved today," Mukherjee said in a TV interview.

Mukherjee made these remarks when asked whether he had any bitterness towards the West Bengal Chief Minister on her not backing him for the Presidency.

Pointing out that besides all partners of UPA, even non UPA partners have given their support, the Congress stalwart renewed his appeal to Banerjee to back him in the Presidential race saying she can extend her support to him since she has not taken a decision so far.

"She has not yet taken a decision - she said that she would take a decision in the course of time - she can extend her support and I am appealing to her to extend her support. I have been saying it right from the beginning...," the veteran West Bengal leader said.

Mukherjee, who has received support of parties from across the political spectrum including CPI-M and Forward Bloc from the Left and JD-U and Shiv Sena from the NDA, also frankly said he did not expect this kind of support.

"Frankly speaking, I did not expect this wide spectrum of support from various cross sections of the Indian political party system.

I do not know whether I deserve that but I can only explain to it that throughout my life, I have received much more from others than I have given to them... I do feel that it is their magnanimity and their graciousness that they have extended their support to me," Mukherjee said.

Asked for his assessment on some Opposition parties supporting him and whether it was the vote for Mukhejee as a person, he merely said, "it is impossible for me to make an assessment of it but I can simply explain it to their magnanimity and their assessment of the political situation prevailing."

He said he was "deeply indebted" to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who took the initiative. "As a political activist I consider this a great recognition," Mukherjee said.

To a question on whether he was aware that he was a candidate when discussions were going on in the UPA over the names, Mukherjee said he was told about the details on the day Banerjee had announced Gandhi's indication that two names including him had emerged in their discussions.

"On that night she (Gandhi) telephoned me and told me what exactly had transpired. Thereafter, the next day I had detailed discussions with her," he said.

To a question, Mukherjee did not feel that there will be vacuum in the government following his exit.

"No, I do not think so because there cannot be a vacuum. In the law of nature, the vacuum is always filled. Individuals are not important, the system is important. Therefore if you can make the system functional, that will be important, effective and fruitful. That is my assessment," he said.

Mukherjee said he felt "disturbed" over frequent disruption of Parliament proceedings. "I do feel we should work out a mechanism through which we can avoid disruptions and use this time more effectively and fruitfully."

He said democracy should work with consensus and advocated "constant dialogue" to restore the functioning of institutions like Parliament.

When asked if coalition had become a part of Indian polity, Mukherjee said, "Coalition is necessary. But it would be wrong to predict that Indian people will go for a coalition" always.

He said in state elections, barring exceptions, parties get absolute majority even though the electorate is the same.

He said this was not happening at the Centre because of the weakness of the Congress, which once had overall influence in major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu.

During his over an hour-long interview, Mukherjee also fondly remembered his mother at the time of his filing of nomination papers and said she would have felt happy on seeing her "naughty boy" on the verge of becoming President.

(Agencies)

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