"After all, election is a question of numbers. Therefore, I have no faith in miracles"

Arriving to a traditional welcome marked by auspicious nagaswaram music, Kerala’s ‘chenda melam’ and western band, Congress candidate for the Presidential election, Pranab Mukherjee, said on Saturday that it was only natural to start his campaign with the blessings and support of DMK president M. Karunanidhi, a stable partner of UPA regimes.

Mr. Mukherjee said he believed that certain offices were not to be sought, but to be offered. “I am delighted that the Congress president and UPA chairperson offered me the august post, which was endorsed by leaders of all political parties who were present at the UPA meeting.”

Making a brief speech at Mr. Karunanidhi’s CIT Colony residence; the hotel where he met Ministers, MPs and MLAs of the UPA; and at Sathyamurthy Bhavan, Mr. Mukherjee sought the support of all parties, including the Trinamool Congress.

He pointed out that parties such as the CPI (M), Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, which were not part of the UPA but were, in fact, opposed to it, had extended their support to his candidature.

While Mr. Karunanidhi reiterated that Mr. Mukherjee’s election was a foregone conclusion, the latter endorsed his views when he said that the President was elected by the members of the electoral college. The numbers were pre-determined.

“If you simply calculate you will find that a majority of the members have expressed their support to the UPA candidate,” Mr. Mukherjee said amidst applause from Union Ministers, including P. Chidambaram, G.K. Vasan, M.K. Alagiri, V. Narayanasamy, Ghulam Nabi Azad, TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan and DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin.

Earlier, responding to a question whether he believed in a miracle, he said there was no scope for it. “After all, election is a question of numbers. Therefore I have no faith in miracles.”

Mr. Mukherjee said that the Presidential election was not a general election, but only for holding a Constitutional position. “The Indian Constitution mentions in detail the role and responsibilities of the President. The President is only a figurehead as per the power vested in the Constitution. Issues, policies and programmes do not figure in this election as executive powers lies in the Cabinet. But, the office [of President] has its own significance…”

Asked about his priorities and whether the mercy petitions of the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case would be considered favourably, Mr. Mukherjee reiterated that the President’s role had been clearly spelt out in the Constitution. “In practice, what a President should do has been done by many illustrious Presidents starting from Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, and Zakir Hussain. I need not bother about working on any specific role.”

Mr. Mukherjee gave an assurance to the gathering that he would try to discharge his responsibilities, the Constitution had vested on the office of the President, if he was elected to the post.

Later, CPI (M) leaders, including State secretary G. Ramakrishnan, party MP T.K. Rangarajan and other MLAs met Mr. Mukherjee and offered their support.