With the Presidential polls looming, UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said he was not thrusting himself on anybody or any political party to support his candidature.

Mr. Mukherjee was here to meet Nationalist Congress Chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other legislators of the ruling Congress-Nationalist-Congress Party coalition, including Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at the latter's residence ‘Matoshree’.

Stating that the purpose behind his visits was to thank leaders and parties who had extended their support to him in the Presidential race, Mr. Mukherjee said a host of non-UPA parties, including those in the North-Eastern States, had backed him wholeheartedly.

Mr. Mukherjee paid generous compliments to Mr. Sharad Pawar, observing that the NCP chief was the first to suggest his candidacy for President.

“Parties outside the UPA-II fold like the Janata Dal (United) and the Shiv Sena (both NDA constituents), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a host of other parties, like the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Lok Jan Shakti Party, have extended their backing,” he said, noting that this indicated the strength of the Indian multiparty democratic system.

He urged political parties to take the initiative to choose a suitable Presidential candidate as the Indian Electoral College mainly comprised of elected representatives belonging to parties.

‘Debate not feasible’

In a veiled rebuke to rival P.A. Sangma, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Presidential candidate, Mr. Mukherjee reiterated that a television debate was not feasible in the Indian context unlike ones that took place in countries like France and America.

“In such countries, the President is directly elected and is the Chief Executive. So, he directly articulates his nation’s policies and programs,” Mr. Mukherjee said. According to the Indian Constitution, he said, the real power was exercised by the Council of Ministers.

So, a televised debate cannot take place on individuals but on programs and polices, Mr. Mukherjee pointed out.

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