The Samajwadi Party on Thursday hit out at the Congress, saying that party itself was not keen on making Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee President. Otherwise it would not have bracketed him with Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
“If the Congress wanted to make Pranabda the President, why did Congress chief Sonia Gandhi give two names to Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee when she met her? There should have been only one name — that of Pranab Mukherjee,” Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said.
By coming out with three names, the SP might have forced the Congress' hand in firming up Mr. Mukherjee's candidature.
As against the Congress nominees, the SP and the TMC on Wednesday suggested the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the former Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, all of which have been turned down by the Congress.
Taking umbrage at Congress leaders accusing SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav of “betrayal,” Mr. Ram Gopal Yadav said they declared their probable candidates as the Congress leadership did not keep them — the third largest party in Parliament — in the loop, though smaller parties were consulted.
“It is perfectly normal in a democracy for your allies and supporting parties to give suggestions, which is what we did. But the Congress is so arrogant that it takes the backing of its allies and supporting parties for granted…with only 206 members in a House of 545, the party behaves as if it has a two-thirds majority,” Mr. Yadav said.
However, informed sources said the SP was not stuck with any names and was open to compromise on the Presidential candidate.
“Party leader Mohan Singh said the SP could not go with the BJP-led NDA.