New Delhi: On a day when the Congress was routed in the Assembly by-polls in eight states, the party named its candidate for the President's post and manged to get support from several political parties - almost sealing the contest. Pranab Mukherjee's nomination as the UPA's candidate for the Presidential post, which is being vehemently opposed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, came just a few hours after her party won both the by-polls in the state while the Congress citadel in Andhra Pradesh was demolished by the Jagan Mohan Reddy's juggernaut.
Jagan's nascent YSR Congress decimated ruling Congress and bagged 15 of the 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in by-elections in Andhra Pradesh in a showing that could be a political gamechanger in the state. The Congress won just two assembly seats in the bitter battle with the 39-year-old Kadapa MP. In the by-polls, touted as the "semi-finals" ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections, the TRS managed to scrape through with a slender margin of 1,562 votes in Parkal, the lone assembly seat in Telangana region, as it faced a close contest from the nominee of the 15-month-old YSR Congress.
With Friday's results, the Congress saw its majority reduced to just seven seats having 155 MLAs in a House of 294. The YSR Congress tally increased to 17.
Pranab's nomination came after the TMC won both the by-polls in the state while the Congress citadel in AP was demolished.
This win gains significance as Jagan was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and sent to jail on May 27 in an disproportionate assets case when he was busy campaigning for the party. His mother YS Vijayamma and sister Sharmila managed to evoke sympathy by accusing the Congress and the TDP of targeting Jagan.
But even before the Andhra Pradesh Congress could come to terms with the defeat by Jagan, the party high commands, back in the national capital, were busy announcing its victory of sorts, two days after the royal snub by key ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
As soon as the UPA declared veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee as its presidential candidate, there were voices of support from almost all the corners of the Indian polity.
In a flip flop, Samajwadi Party, which had joined hands with Trinamool Congress over the issue of Presidential poll, on Friday went all out vouching
support for Pranab's candidature for the top Constitutional post. Soon after Congress President Sonia Gandhi announced Pranab's name for the post of President, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav commended Mukherjee saying "he is an able, experienced and scholarly Parliamentarian."
His cousin and party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav had earlier announced the party's support for Pranab, wishing the leader from West Bengal all the best. "We support Mukherjee's candidature. We congratulate him on becoming the UPA candidate," Ram Gopal said.
Former President APJ Kalam, seen as a rival candidate, conveyed that he was unwilling to stand against the Finance Minister.
At the UPA meeting, not attended by estranged member Mamata Banerjee, the Congress made it clear that it is trying to get other parties to back Pranab.