New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday but insisted that they did not discuss the Presidential poll. After the meeting Mamata said, "I came to meet her and inquire about her health."
When asked about the Presidential poll, Mamata smiled and said, "I am the candidate." The TMC chief had earlier emphasised that she was not keen on former president APJ Abdul Kalam, but was open to a consensus candidate.
Sources say Sonia Gandhi told Mamata that no name has been finalised for the Presidential candidate so far. Mamata Banerjee, according to sources, said that her party was open to a consensus candidate.
Mamata may support Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice-President Hamid Ansari for the President’s post, sources said. The UPA has been reaching out to its allies over the past few days to build a consensus on the matter.
Mamata is also expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday to discuss the financial bailout for the state. The UPA partner has made it clear that she will seek greater financial bailout for West Bengal.
Mamata has given a 15-day deadline, which ends on May 6, to the UPA to accept her demand for a three-year moratorium on Bengal's outstanding loans, inherited from the Left Front government.
Mamata has been pointing out that her government has inherited a debt burden of loans adding up to over Rs 2,00,000 crore by the Left government, and says she cannot pay salaries to government employees or carry out any development work.
West Bengal's expenses
Interest payment: Rs 18,100 crore
Salaries: Rs 31,000 crore
Pension: Rs 9,500 crore
Repayment of principal: Rs 7,400
Subsidies: Rs 1,500 crore