New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was on Friday named the UPA candidate for the President's post as the TMC-SP combine, which had proposed A P J Abdul Kalam as their nominee, appeared to have broken in a significant gain for the ruling coalition.

Ending months of speculation, the ruling coalition met at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and its Chairperson Sonia Gandhi put forward the name of the 77-year-old veteran Congressman from West Bengal as its candidate, which was unanimously approved by the leaders of the constituent parties.

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Reading out from a statement, Gandhi said, Pranab Mukherjee has a long and distinguished record of public service spanning over five decades.

"There is broad support for his candidature. The UPA appeals to all the political parties and all MPs and MLAs to support the candidature of Mukherjee for the office of President," she said.

Significantly, the UPA announcement was immediately greeted by Samajwadi Party and its arch rival in Uttar Pradesh BSP, who both extended their support to Mukherjee.

PM seeks support for Pranab

With UPA nominating Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential candidate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached out to various political parties including the main opposition BJP to seek support.

Soon after his name was announced by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Singh called Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, sources said.

He also called up SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, CPI leader A B Bardhan and former Prime Minister and JD (S) leader H D Devegowda.

CPI-M congratulates Pranab

Congratulating Pranab Mukherjee for being chosen as UPA's Presidential candidate, the CPI(M) said it will decide on the issue of supporting him after consulting other Left parties.

The Left parties are scheduled to meet in June 21 to take a decision on the July 19 Presidential election. "We congratulate Pranab Mukherjee for being chosen as the Presidential candidate of UPA. He is a very senior leader of Congress and it is common courtesy to congratulate him for his nomination," party Politburo member Brinda Karat said.

Cong hopes Mamata to come on board

With Pranab Mukherjee's nomination as UPA candidate for the Presidential poll gaining support, Congress hoped that Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress would also come on board.

"She is still our ally...the best is yet to come" remarked party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi to a host of questions on the issue soon after Sonia Gandhi announced Mukherjee's candidature.

Didi firm on Kalam's candidature

Unfazed by the isolation after Congress-led UPA named Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential nominee, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said her party remained firm on the candidature of A P J Abdul Kalam and said "the game has just begun".

"We are firm on the candidature of Kalam. He is the fittest candidate. We are not shifting from our stand of what we have announced earlier," Banerjee told PTI at the state secretariat.

Number Game

With support of SP and BSP, the UPA candidate is in a position to garner nearly half of the total vote value of 10,98,882. On its own, UPA has a vote value of 4.12 lakh after deducting TMC's 48,049.

But the addition of 1.12 lakh vote value of SP (68,812) and BSP (43,349) will take the vote value of UPA to 5.24 lakh. This leaves the ruling alliance with a slight deficit of 25,000 vote value, assuming all other parties are ranged against the UPA candidate.
The BJP-led NDA has a vote value of 3.04 lakh while the left Parties account for over 51,000 vote value.

JPN/ Agencies

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