In reportedly another twist in Presidential race, UPA today rejected PM Manmohan Singh's name as president. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee met Sonia Gandhi as Congress made clear that he is still in the race.
Earlier, on WednesdayTrinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party, came out with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's name, along with that of former president APJ Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their
Their political manoeuvre probably put Congress' initial choice of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and vice president Hamid Ansari out of serious reckoning and opened up the possibility of several scenarios.
Though some Congress sources ruled out the possibility of Singh participating in the presidential race, there was no official response from the party to the odd manner in which SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee mentioned the PM name at a joint press conference.
The West Bengal chief minister drove to Yadav's house from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's residence where, after the meeting, Banerjee had disclosed to the media that Mukherjee and Ansari were the Congress party' choices - and in that order.
Later, ignoring both the names, Mulayam and Mamata declared that the PM, Kalam and Chatterjee were their choices, saying any one of them would be acceptable to them. They also made it clear that the names they had proposed were not in order of preference.
The name of Singh as a possible presidential candidate had done the rounds for some time.
But a few days ago, the PM himself ruled out any such move, saying, "I am happy doing what I am doing."
Gandhi, too, heaped praise for his stewardship of the government and the country at the Congress working committee though some Congress leaders had urged the UPA to undertake bold measures to shore up the government's image.
After making the announcement, the SP chief discussed the issue with NDA convenor Sharad Yadav while the BJP's core group decided to wait for the Congress response to their suggestion since they were UPA allies.
Meanwhile, Congress sources said Gandhi might call a meeting of UPA leaders to discuss the issue.
The PM is due to be away abroad for a week from June 16.