New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee appears to be the clear frontrunner in the race to the Rashtrapati Bhawan as the Congress is speaking to its allies outside the UPA to seek a consensus on his name.
According to reports, the Congress spoke to the Samajwadi Party on the issue on Friday, and is expected to hold discussions with key ally Mamata Banerjee soon.
UPA sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has been authorised by the party's Working Committee to pick the candidate, is likely to make the announcement around June 15, probably a couple of days after the expected poll notification by the Election Commission.
Pranab emerges as the clear frontrunner with the Congress speaking to its allies outside the UPA on his candidature.
Significantly, Sonia's political advisor Ahmed Patel had a meeting with Mukherjee at his North Block office.
According to sources, the Congress has already secured the support of key allies like DMK, NCP and RLD, who form part of the government, and outside supporters like Samajwadi Party.
BSP, another outside supporter, and UPA's second largest constituent Trinamool Congress, are not expected to oppose the UPA candidate.
Sources said though Mamata Banerjee had taken the name of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and a couple of others as her favourite, her party is expected to toe the UPA line once Mukherjee's name is announced, the logic being it is that the TMC cannot be expected to oppose a candidate from Bengal for the top post.
They also made it clear that no names were considered at the meeting of the Congress Core Group on Friday morning which was attended by Sonia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some other leaders.
Meanwhile, former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, who has been named by AIADMK and BJD as their candidate, met BJP leader L K Advani on Friday to seek NDA's support for him.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)