New Delhi, June 15: No sooner had the United Progressive Alliance, minus the Trinamool Congress, endorsed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its candidate for the president’s post, support came pouring in also from several other parties, even some from the opposition, ready to consider backing him.
First off the block in extending support to Mukherjee was the Samajwadi Party (SP), which two days back had joined hands with the Trinamool Congress to virtually reject the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s choice.
But then, as SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav himself said on his turnaround: “In politics, such questions are useless. As new situation emerges, decisions are taken.”
Yadav, supporting Mukherjee, said: “He is a vidwan (scholar) in politics and, under the present national situation, he is the most suitable person to be the country’s president.”
Not to be left behind, SP’s bete noire Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), another supporter of the UPA government from outside, joined the bandwagon to support Mukherjee.
BSP chief Mayawati said in Lucknow that her party had made up its mind to favour Mukherjee as he was the “best suited candidate” for the top post.
“Of all the names offered so far, Pranab Mukherjee is the best suited for the presidency and my party has decided to extend its full support to his candidature,” she said.
She said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had telephoned her some minutes back, seeking her support for Mukherjee.
“I’ve told both leaders that the BSP would support Pranab Mukherjee in the race for presidency,” she said.
She, however, added that BSP’s support for the UPA candidate was merely based on “values and political thought”.
The BSP would continue to oppose the anti-people policies of the UPA, she said. “We are against the economic policies of the UPA and our opposition to them would continue.”
Another UPA-backer, Rastriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad said “he was happy” with the UPA announcing Mukherjee as its candidate.
“We are happy with the presidential candidate, who is now the pride of Bengal. We had from the very beginning said we’ll support whatever Sonia-ji says,” he told reporters here.
The principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too did not outrightly rule out its support for Mukherjee. It said it would decide on the presidential polls after consulting its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners.
Soon after UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced Mukherjee’s name, BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said the Congress should have tried to build a consensus earlier.
“The NDA will meet and decide on this,” he told reporters.
BJP’s ally Janata Dal-United too endorsed the view, with party chief and NDA convenor Sharad Yadav saying the alliance partners would sit together to decide their next move.
Asked for his party’s reaction to Mukherjee’s candidature, Yadav said: “We will decide together. I don’t want to say anything… It is not right to say anything.”
Pranab’s party, the Congress, expressed hope that all parties would support him.
“I hope all parties will support Pranab Mukherjee,” Congress spokesman Janardan Dwivedi told media persons.
He said Mukherjee, with his vast experience of international affairs, economic affairs and political affairs, was the best-suited candidate for the post.
“Every one knows his role in UPA-I and UPA-II and he has dealt with every political party,” Dwivedi said.
When asked why SP endorsed Mukherjee, he said: “The Samajwadi Party has supported the government in the past also.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, respectively, as well as senior BJP leader L.K. Advani to seek support for Mukherjee’s candidature.
He also called leaders of parties in parliament to seek their backing for Mukherjee’s candidature, according to sources.