New Delhi:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday remained non-committal on Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee as the next President but strongly backed Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for the post.

It was for Congress Party to decide who it's candidate was, she said adding in a democracy everything depended on the majority.

However, she went on to say, “But if you ask my party's choice or the personal choice, then I'll say, I love Meira Kumar. She is a soft-spoken lady from the scheduled caste background."

"That I do not know, but I will be very happy to see if Meira Kumar or Gopal Gandhi or even A P J Abdul Kalam...These three names are better, I think so," she said when asked about her party's stand on the next President.

To a query about not mentioning Mukherjee on her wishlist for the President's post, Banerjee said,"No, I didn't say, but if it (Congress) allows him who am I to oppose it? It depends on the majority. It is a democratic country.

"He (Mukherjee) is finance minister...for Pranab Mukherjee I am very much sincere.  About this I am very much serious. It's Congress party's decision (as to) who will be the candidate. We cannot say. I cannot interfere in Congress party's business."

Banerjee, chief of Tranamool Congress, which runs a coalition government with the Congress in West Bengal, said, "Is he the son of Bengal?  He may the son of world....I don't think so but it is his choice. I don't know."

Congress steers clear of Mamata’s remarks

Meanwhile, Congress steered clear of Mamata Banerjee remaining non-committal on Pranab Mukherjee as the next President.

"I have not heard or seen the statement", party spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters.

He was asked to react to Banerjee's remarks that she would be "very happy" to see Meira Kumar, Gopal Gandhi or even A P J Abdul Kalam as the next President.

Alvi said Congress will hold consultations with all concerned on the issue of next President. Banerjee's party Trinamool Congress is the second largest constituent of UPA after Congress. In recent times, it has emerged as the most troublesome ally of Congress in the ruling alliance.

Replying to a question, he dismissed the findings of a survey that spoke of people favouring a young Prime Minister.

"Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister and will continue to be. The next Prime Minister will be decided as per the Constitutional procedures after the elections in 2014", he said.

Asked if it means that Rahul Gandhi will not become the Prime Minister, he said Gandhi is not only leader of the party but a national leader who will be at the helm of the government "at the proper time".

(Agencies)

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