Terming as “appropriate” the decision by her favoured candidate A P J Abdul Kalam to pull out of the Presidential race, the Congress on Monday renewed its appeal to Mamata Banerjee to back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
In an apparent move to mollify Ms. Banerjee, the AICC also snubbed party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who had dubbed the Trinamool Congress supremo as “erratic” and “immature” and had given signals that the party’s patience with her was running out.
“Digvijay Singh is not officially authorised to speak on behalf of the party,” the AICC said in a media release.
The Congress also hailed Mr. Kalam’s decision to opt out of the race as “appropriate”.
“Former President Kalam is a very distinguished person. We have highest respect for him. We hold him in high esteem. If in his wisdom, he has taken a decision, it must obviously be an appropriate decision,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Referring to the statement on Mr. Digvijay, Mr. Tewari said messages are sent by the AICC media department according to party directive.
He dubbed as “resting on erroneous assumption” questions over Congress’ options if Ms. Banerjee walks out of the alliance.
He said the party “would like West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader to support the candidature of Mukherjee”.
Mr. Tewari also pointed out that Pranab Mukherjee described the Trinamool Congress chief as his sister and had made a personal appeal to vote for him in the Presidential election.
SP in UPA?
Replying to a query, Mr. Tewari dismissed as “very hypothetical” questions regarding Samajwadi Party joining the UPA ahead of the Presidential polls and said our appeal to all parties is for support to Mr. Mukherjee’s candidature“.
He also condemned Team Anna attacking Mr. Mukherjee saying it was “indeed very unfortunate that some people have got into the habit of making allegations against distinguished and senior leaders, who have spent decades in public life”.