NEW DELHI: Adding fuel to political fire over the presidential elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Former president APJ Abdul Kalam is the Trinamool Congress' first choice and the "best candidate" for president.
"Kalam is the best candidate possible, he is our first choice. We had asked for a consensus candidate, that's why we gave so many names," Banerjee told reporters here.
"We want consensus on Kalam," she added.
Banerjee said that she will not go back on the names she and Samajwadi Party supreme Mulayam Singh Yadav had proposed Wednesday.
Mamata Banerjee also said that she will boycott the UPA meet, scheduled for 11.00 am on Friday, as she "decisions have already been made" by the UPA.
She said she already knows what's in the UPA's mind, while she will continue to support APJ Kalam and not Pranab Mukherjee.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, speaking to a television channel, claimed that her intention is not to topple the government. "I am not leaving the government. If the Congress feels I am unwanted they can ask me to leave," she said.
Mamata's statement comes in the wake of the buzz that the Congress was trying to isolate her -- after being upset with her for revealing the names of the Congress's presidential nominees -- by trying to drive a wedge between her Trinamool Congress and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party.
Earlier, accusing Mamata of showing lack of respect towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni said that proposing the name of the prime minister of India for President's post does not make any political sense.
Soni lashed out at Mamata for rejecting the name of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the President's post on Thursday and said Mamata's action was unethical.
She accused Mamata of showing lack of respect towards Manmohan Singh.
The Trinamool Congress Party meanwhile responded to the Congress outburst against Mamata Banerjee claiming that Mamata was not wrong in revealing the names of the Congress presidential nominees. The party said that she did not break any decorum since she shared the information only after Sonia Gandhi's consent.
Earlier, the Congress rejected former President APJ Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee proposed by the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) for the President's post.
"During United Progressive Alliance (UPA) second (term) it was decided that Manmohan Singh will stay prime minister till 2014. We cannot afford to spare Dr. Manmohan Singh. He is our prime ministerial candidate and this is our commitment to the people of the country," Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said.
"I want to keep it straight... Congress president as United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson started talks with all allies and supporters. During the first round of talks, two names came up and they were of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari," Dwivedi said.
"When Mamata met her (Gandhi), the Congress chief told her that these two names have come up for presidential elections. When two names have come up, this does not mean that Congress has decided on one name," he said.
The Trinamool Congress chief was at the center of a political drama Wednesday when she stunned everyone by announcing three new names, including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as her and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's preferences for the presidency.
Banerjee, who met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Wednesday evening, was the one who made the announcement that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was the first choice of the Congress for the president's post followed by Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Immediately after meeting Gandhi, she held talks with Mulayam Singh Yadav. She had met the SP chief Tuesday night soon after arriving in the capital from Kolkata.
But in a matter of an hour, Banerjee, with Mulayam Singh by her side, sprang a surprise by naming former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha leader Somnath Chatterjee as their preferred choices.
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