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No differences with SP, Kalam is candidate: Mamata

New Delhi: Unfazed by reports that Mulayam Singh Yadav may have a rethink on their joint proposal to pit A P J Abdul Kalam, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today said the former President is their Presidential candidate.

"It is wrong information. I can say only this. He (Kalam) is our (TMC-SP) candidate in the Presidential election. There is no ego, no quarrel, no fight," she told reporters seeking to dismiss persistent reports that the SP was no longer keen on backing Kalam.

SP and TMC on Tuesday proposed Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their candidates. Yesterday, Mamata declared that Kalam was their candidate. There were media reports today that SP may be doing a rethinking on Kalam.

The media reports were further beefed up by some interesting comments made by SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav today that the word `hamara` candidate used by Mamata yesterday for Kalam could mean both `ours` and `mine`.

Asked about Ram Gopal Yadav`s comments, Mamata said, "Don`t put Congress words into his mouth. Don`t divide and rule. Hamara means `dono ka candidate` (candidate of both). My Hindi may be bad, that may be the reason for confusion."

Before leaving for Kolkata without attending the UPA meeting here, Mamata said it was wrong to say that Mulayam Singh Yadav has gone back on their joint proposal. Interestingly, Kiranmoy Nanda, SP leader from West Bengal told reporters after Mamata`s briefing that "we stand by the decision taken by Mulayamji and Mamataji".

Mamata said whatever response they were getting for their proposal was good. "We stick to our three candidates. Congress has rejected Manmohan Singh. It is their decision. We have another two candidates. Somnath Chatterjee is there. I talked to him," she said.

"The President`s office is an important post. Don`t divide and rule. All support Kalam. He is our candidate. Whatever we have announced we will stick to it," she said.

The West Bengal Chief Minister claimed that Kalam has said this morning that he is contesting. "It is good.We thank him. We congratulate him in advance. Kalam is an asset. He can glorify India. He is a popular candidate. If there is a direct election to Presidential office like in America, he will be number one".

She said they have given a clarion call. "I will appeal again to all political parties to give your support to Kalam".

Mamata said she was leaving for Kolkata. "I stayed in Delhi for two days. After the announcement of our presidential candidature. We waited for 24 hours. Mulayamji and myself waited for 24 hours. Congress rejected. However, response for Kalamji from other political parties is good," she said.

Asked about attempts by Congress to win over Mulayam, she said, "It is wrong. Kalam is our candidate. Why you are blaming Mulayamji? Whatever we do, we do together with Mulayam."

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