New Delhi: The UPA on Saturday rejected the nominees of the Trinamool Congress for the Vice Presidential elections announcing the candidature of Hamid Ansari for a second term after a meeting of the alliance at 7 RCR, the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
An announcement in this regard was made by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi saying the alliance was honoured to nominate him again.
She said, "Hamid Ansari will shortly finish his term as Vice President. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity. The UPA is honoured to nominate him for a second term as Vice President."
Following the announcement, Ansari expressed his happiness over the nomination thanking the UPA chairperson and the Prime Minister.
"I accept the honour and responsibility which has been given to me. I thank the PM, UPA chairperson and all parties who have supported me," said Ansari.
Almost an hour after the announcement by the UPA chairperson, the Congress also confirmed the support of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati to the candidature of Ansari.
Addressing mediapersons, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, without naming the Trinamool Congress and the candidates backed by it, also said that other names were suggested but that of Ansari was finalised.
"In the course of discussion, some names were suggested but we have finalised the name of Hamid Ansari," said Chidambaram.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also spoke to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee over the issue even though the West Bengal Chief Minister is likely to skip Sonia Gandhi's dinner meet for allies on July 18.
The Trinamool Congress, however, did not appear to back the idea of the rejection of its candidates, Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose's niece Krishna Bose, saying they would let their decision on support to Ansari be known later.
Union Railways Minister Mukul Roy said, "I'll let you know what will be our party stand by next week. The agenda of the meeting was not known to us. I will go back to the party and communicate the decision, then we will decide on our next course of action."
According to sources, the Prime Minister also spoke to Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani to build consensus on Ansari.
The BJP, however, in its core group meeting on Saturday evening decided to contest the Vice President elections, though it said that the name of the candidate would declared following consultations with NDA partners.
Ansari, 75, a career diplomat who has also served as the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, if elected, will emulate late philosopher-statesman S Radhakrishnan, who got two terms as vice-president between 1952 and 1962.
In 2007, Ansari was a surprise choice for Vice President when the Left parties, which were supporting the UPA-I government from outside, proposed his name and the Congress-led alliance accepted it.
He had defeated Najma Heptuallah of the BJP in the 2007 elections securing 455 votes in an electoral college of 788.
Well read and an affable personality, Ansari was among the frontrunners in the race for the presidential election next week. His name was the UPA's second choice as revealed by Sonia Gandhi but Pranab Mukherjee pipped him to the post after Trinamool Congress' pressure tactics on the Congress failed.
Ansari was the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities when he was nominated for the Vice-Presidential poll in 2007.
By and large, he carried himself well in the post as well as Chairman of Rajya Sabha except for the controversial decision to abruptly adjourn the House on the last day of the winter session last year when the House was expected to vote on the Lokpal bill.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)
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