Sonia Gandhi names Pranab Mukherjee as UPA nominee


*Nirbhau Nirvair*
New Delhi: 5:20 pm: Less than an hour after the UPA declared Pranab Mukherjee as its official candidate, the Samajwadi Party announced its support for his candidature in the Presidential poll.
5:18 PM: TMC is not going to change its stand on Pranab: Kunal Ghosh.
5:05 pm: Former president APJ Abdul Kalam may not contest against Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. A final announcement on this is likely on Saturday.


PTI Photo
5:01 PM: UPA appeals to all political parties and members of State Legislature Assembly to support Pranab Mukherjee as the President of India: Sonia Gandhi.
4:56 PM UPA statement: Pranab has a long and distinguished record, broad support for his candidature. UPA appeals to all political parties to support for Pranab.
4:47 PM: All UPA leaders at the meet endorse Pranab's candidature.
4:47 PM: Sonia Gandhi announces Pranab Mukherjee as UPA nominee for President poll.
4 pm: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee reach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence to attend the UPA meet.
2:56 PM: NDA meet indecisive due to differences over supporting APJ Abdul Kalam. Janata Dal (United) Sharad Yadav objected to supporting Kalam. Sources say there is no unanimity within the JD(U) on whether Kalam should be supported or not.
2:55 PM: Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar meets Kalam in Patna.
2:08 PM: As clamour grows for Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's candidature for the President's post, sources say the UPA will reach out to all the parties, including the NDA, seeking support for Pranab. Sources also indicate that NDA may not be opposed to Pranab's candidature.
Sources also say that Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will clarify his stand on Pranab soon. The UPA will meet at 4 pm on Friday and sources say that it is set to announce Pranab as its Presidential candidates. Sources say the NDA will meet again after the UPA's announcement.
According to sources, Pranab may resign as the Finance Minister on June 24 after filing his nomination for the President's post and the Prime minister is likely to take over the Finance portfolio. Sources also say that P Chidambaram or Sushil Shinde may replace Pranab as the Leader of the Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, Left leader and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also said that he discussed the Presidential poll with Pranab on Thursday and will take a decision after a meeting. "The Left parties will sit for a meeting in Delhi, let's see what happens," he said.
12:30 PM: Mulayam Singh Yadav refuses to comment on President poll.
12:15 PM: Samajwadi Party will never support NDA's candidate: Mohan Singh
Without getting their prior consent, Mamata has announced their names. SP will decide on the issue of support in the Presidential election after UPA and NDA announce their candidates.
SP was "100 per cent with Mamata and will stay with her". At the same time, it is "our duty" to tell Mamata that "the country is in great crisis and any move to destabilise the government is not fair"," said Singh.
12:05 PM: The Congress sources have claimed that the SP and the BSP were on board over the Presidential candidate. Sources say that Pranab Mukherjee is set to be the UPA's Presidential candidate.
11:34 APJ Kalam will contest, I congratulate him in advance: Mamata Banerjee.
11:24 Mulayam Singh Yadav and I are still together: Mamata Banerjee.
11:24 Samajwadi Party-Congress deal done. Congress to announce Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential candidate.
11:20 Samajwadi Party MP Kiranmoy Nanda arrives to meet Mamata Banerjee at her residence.
10:30 AM: The Samajwadi Party on Friday said that the party did not want early elections and did not want to topple the government. Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav also said that the party will not join the UPA government. He, however, said that APJ Abdul Kalam was only Mamata Banerjee's choice.
On being asked if Kalam was the joint candidate of the two parties, Ram Gopal said, "'Hamara' could also mean 'mera'," indicating only Mamata was committing on Kalam till now.
When asked about whether the party will support Pranab Mukherjee's candidature, he said, "Mulayam Singh Yadav will decide whether SP will back Pranab."
9:44 AM: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the Presidential elections at 12 noon on Friday. Pranab Mukherjee will also attend the UPA meet on the Presidential elections at 4 pm on Friday.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has left for Agra to meet local leaders.
9:10 AM: The Congress sources have claimed that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has assured them his support for their Presidential candidate.
Samajwadi Party leaders Ram Gopal and Naresh Agarwal met party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Friday to discuss the Presidential candidate. Sources say Agarwal has been the main negotiator between SP and the Congress on the Presidential poll. Congress leaders Rajiv Shukla and Digvijaya Singh are among the main interlocutors, say sources.
8:40 AM: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has invited former President APJ Abdul Kalam for lunch on Friday. Nitish Kumar had also gone to receive APJ Abdul Kalam at the Patna airport on Thursday. There were reports on Thursday that Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called Nitish seeking support for Kalam in the Presidential poll. However, sources later denied that Mamata spoke to Nitish.
It is a crucial day ahead for the Presidential race. The UPA will meet on Friday and the Congress is likely to come out with its Presidential nominee. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will skip the meet as she feels there is no point in attending the meet because the candidate has already been decided.
Sources say that Sonia Gandhi has warned all allies like the NCP and the DMK that Mamata and Mulayam want early polls and so, a show of strength is crucial.
How Pranab can become the President:
Right now Pranab has 37.6 per cent votes from UPA and RJD without TMC support
With Left support that would go up to 42.6 per cent
UPA + RJD (- TMC) + Left
4,68,072 (42.6 per cent)
Magic Figure: 5,49,442
If BSP also decide to go with UPA and choose Pranab as the Presidential Candidate then figure will go up to 46.7 per cent
UPA + RJD (- TMC) + Left + BSP
5,13,545 (46.7 per cent)
Magic Figure: 5,49,442
If SP also agrees on Pranab as Presidential candidate then the figure will reach 52.8 per cent
UPA + RJD (- TMC) + Left + BSP + SP
5,80,233 (52.8 per cent)
Magic Figure: 5,49,442