New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari are clearly leading the race for the President's post. But at the moment, it's Ansari who has nose ahead in this neck and neck battle. The main point working in his favour is that a large section of the Congress is unwilling to let Pranab, a key trouble shooter for the government, go.
Congress Spokeperson Renuka Chaudhary said, "Pranab da is invaluable."
There was some relief for the UPA from the opposition camp too. NDA's key component JD(U) made it clear that neither it wanted a contest nor was it opposed to the two UPA candidates.
JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwary said, "Hamid Ansari is Vice President, Pranab Mukherjee is such a senior leader."
Samajwadi Party, which was supposedly batting for former president APJ Kalam's renomination, has started singing a different tune. It now wants a political president, something that Kalam is clearly not.
But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who could well hold the key to who is the ultimate winner is Keeping her cards close to her chest. She is unlikely to be complicating things for the UPA.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi herself is unwilling to commit herself to any one name till she hasn't spoken to all allies.
As of today, it's advantage UPA with not only its own allies but a key NDA constituent now batting for consensus. The Congress could well get its nominee in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.