New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and West Bengal Left Front Chairperson Biman Bose on Thursday afternoon, seeking Left Front's support during the Presidential election. Mukherjee had a telephonic conversation with Bhattacharjee, who is in Kolkata, and discussed the developments related to the Presidential election.
Mukherje also called Bose requesting him to convince the Left leadership for support. Bose reportedly told Mukherjee to let the UPA first officially announce the candidate's name before the Left takes a call.
Mukherjee's call to the Left leaders means that the Congress is no longer counting on the Trinamool Congress for support. The Left Front has 51,682 (five per cent) votes, which is about 4,000 (one per cent) more than the Trinamool Congress for the Presidential election.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Earlier, Mukherjee said that the Congress-led UPA would announce the name of its candidate shortly for the top job.
"Congress and UPA will have to set up a Presidential candidate. Who will be the Presidential candidate? That will be decided shortly," he said after a Cabinet meeting in New Delhi
Earlier in the day, the Finance Minister had driven to the 10, Janpath residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and was with her for about 30 minutes. Defence Minister AK Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram also met Sonia.
Mukherjee's name was suggested by Congress on Wednesday but UPA constituent Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party rejected it and, instead, suggested three names - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former president APJ Abdul Kalam or former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee - for the post.
Following the rebuff by Mamata, the Congress has started working on a strategy on isolating the Trinamool Congress.
Congress crisis managers are working on the assumption that while Mamata and to a certain extent Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had got together on Wednesday to reject the candidatures of Pranab and Ansari, are itching for mid-term polls in the next 12 months, other parties are not so keen.
There was a sense of betrayal and the Congress felt shell-shocked and out manoeuvred after Mamata gave the details of her meeting with Sonia.
The Congress game plan is to get Mulayam back the UPA candidate and isolate Mamata. The party is also reaching out to its allies and parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Left Front and other parties who are yet to reveal their cards.
With the risk of Mamata walking out very high, the UPA is likely to seek the support of the Left Front and the BSP to bail out the government in case of a trial of strength in the Lok Sabha.