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Cong hopes Mamata will ultimately back Pranab

New Delhi: Notwithstanding Mamata Banerjee`s campaign for A P J Abdul Kalam as President, ruling Congress has not lost hopes that Trinamool Congress would ultimately back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

Congress is also giving signals that it wants to keep Mamata Banerjee`s party firmly in UPA despite demands from its West Bengal unit to snap ties following TMC`s revolt on the issue of the Presidential poll nominee. The view in Congress is that as support for Mukherjee swells in his home state West Bengal, Banerjee will find it difficult to keep her opposition to the first-ever Presidential candidate from West Bengal.

The expression of this hope was prominent in the remarks of Union Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal who said Banerjee, like other UPA partners, will accept the candidature of Mukherjee for the post of President. "People give their candidature. After that, whatever decision is taken with consensus, everybody accepts it. Mamata is our very senior leader and we hope that she will also accept it. If everybody agrees, the whole coalition agrees, then I think she will also agree," he said.

The central leadership of the party is also not attaching much significance to the sparring between state Congress and its ally in West Bengal on the issue and is in no mood to endorse the move by the PCC to withdraw from the government. A Trinamool Congress minister in West Bengal has said Congress was free to quit the Mamata Banerjee ministry in West Bengal. His comments came after WBPCC President Pradip Bhattacharya`s threat to withdraw Congress ministers from the state government after Mamata`s rejection of UPA presidential candidate.

A senior AICC functionary, however, downplayed the event ruling out any first step by Congress to walk out of West Bengal government or pushing Trinamool Congress out of UPA. "You must have noticed she has refrained from attacking Congress after Mukherjee`s name was officially announced as candidate. You also see Pranab Mukherjee also addressed Banerjee as sister and appealed to her to vote for him. Things will be sorted out," a senior leader, who declined to be identified, said. Another party leader, speaking separately, said "Congress won`t do anything to rock the boat of UPA unless Banerjee herself parts ways.

"As far as her act of suggesting new names is concenred, all coalition partners are free to give suggestions till a collective decision is taken. She gave suggestions, which were not accepted by UPA, which in its collective wisdom announced Pranab Mukherjee`s candidature," he said. A section in the party felt it will be better for Banerjee`s politics in West Bengal that she backs Pranab Mukherjee as even if she chooses to boycott voting in the Presidential elections, a wrong message will go against her and it will setting a bad precedent.

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