Kumbakonam (TN): Former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Saturday said the nation's pride would be enhanced if either Vice-President Hamid Ansari or Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is chosen as President.

"Hameed Ansari is a good friend of mine and a knowledgable person. Pranab Mukherjee is a walking encyclopedia. Whoever occupies the post will follow law and precedents" he told reporters here on Saturday.

He criticised BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's reported remarks that Ansari was not qualified for the post and said this only showed she was not fit for the role as opposition leader.

On the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, he said no solution can be reached without diplomatic talks. "Despite differences and problems, only diplomatic talks will solve the problems."

He also pointed out that the central government is providing all constructive assistance to Tamils there in all spheres.

On the Maoist menace, he said poverty is the main reason for it to take root and said people in affected areas should be provided with all their needs for development.


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