Ranchi, July 12: Pranab Mukherjee, almost certain to become the 13th President of India in the July 19 elections, today charmed MPs and MLAs of Jharkhand and Bihar, even sounding confident of finally getting the support of UPA's blow-hot-blow-cold ally, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The veteran politician, who arrived here from Delhi in the evening, called on JMM president Shibu Soren, JVM boss Babulal Marandi and Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto before holding a joint meeting with leaders of the Congress, RJD and Lok Janshakti Party, including Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, at a city hotel.
Two JD (U) MLAs, Sudha Chaudhary and Raja Peter, were also present.
After exchanging pleasantries, and a press conference that attracted a huge gathering, Mukherjee seemed to have successfully won over at least one BJP ally, the JMM.
JMM chief Shibu Soren received him at his residence at Morabadi with a bouquet of flowers and dropped enough hints that his party, with 18 MLAs and three MPs, would back Mukherjee.
"The whole country wants him (Mukherjee) as president. We have maintained personal relations for the last 30 years," the JMM leader gushed, a marked departure from the "yet undecided" stand he took with Opposition presidential nominee P.A. Sangma yesterday.
Ajsu's Sudesh Mahto, however, did not spell out his mind, leaving it to the core committee of his party to take a final call.
JVM's Babulal Marandi, who has already declared support to Mukherjee, also greeted him with a bouquet in addition to a memento. His MLAs also greeted him with flowers.
"The bouquet is the symbol that every MLA will be voting for him," said JVM principal general secretary Pradeep Yadav. "We simply conveyed to him that he should not forget Jharkhand once he enters Rashtrapati Bhavan. Usually, leaders in Delhi forget a backward state like Jharkhand."
Mukherjee, who was accompanied by several Congress leaders, including Rajiv Shukla, Subodh Kant Sahay, Rajendra Prasad Singh and Pradeep Balmuchu, was at his charming best.
In a brief interaction with the media, he said he had come to Ranchi to appeal to those parties that were still undecided whom to vote for.
"I have got support of all partners of the UPA, inside and outside the government, except one. Even non-UPA parties are supporting me. Regional parties in Nagaland and Assam, too, have extended support to me," he said.
On Mamata Banerjee, Mukherjee said he was still hopeful (of getting her support). "She has also said that she will take a decision two days before the elections," Mukherjee, flanked by Lalu Prasad and Paswan, said.
Lalu Prasad took over from Mukherjee in his inimitable style. "We will miss Dada in the Lok Sabha. We will prevail upon him to visit Bihar and Jharkhand before he visits his home state after winning the elections," he said.
For the Presidential elections, the total value of votes of Jharkhand's elected representatives is 28,416, which is 3 per cent of electoral college.
JMM, JVM and Ajsu have 18, 11 and six MLAs respectively. The Congress has 13 and RJD five MLAs in the state.