Pranab hopes for TMC support at last moment

Bhubaneswar: UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee today said he was hopeful of support from Trinamool Congress at the last moment. "I hope they (TMC) will. I can only hope on this matter. I am waiting," Mukherjee told reporters in reply to a query after meeting Congress legislators in Odisha and other party leaders here.

Quoting TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mukherjee said "she has already said that her party will take a final decision in this regard three to four days before the Presidential election." To a question on BJP-backed P A Sangma dubbing him as a `failed` Finance Minister, Mukherjee said "whether I have failed or succeeded … surely posterity will judge. I will not comment on it."

Referring to Sangma`s remarks, Mukherjee said he did not consider Rashtrapati Bhavan as a dumping ground. "These sort of phrases should not be used," he said. He said some political parties were supporting him while some were opposed to his candidature. "There are political parties which have not yet taken a decision."

Lamenting mud-slinging during the campaign for the Presidential elections, Mukherjee said "in a democracy everybody has the right to contest polls and oppose any candidate. But let us maintain the dignity of the post. There should be no campaign to malign." Mukherjee declined to comment on allegations that public money had been doled out to certain states when he was Finance Minister.

"I cannot respond to whether special package is given to anybody. That question can be put in Parliament or through the Right to Information," he said. Pointing out that the role of the President of India was different from that of the US and France, Mukherjee said the President`s office was important. He said the President of India represented civilisation, culture of the country and he had the obligation to ensure that the governemnt worked in accordance with the Constitution.

He said though he had covered a large number of states, some states were yet to be visited. "I will finish the tour by July 15 as election for the Presidential post is on July 19," he said. On his ties with Odisha, Mukherjee said it was since the beginning of his political career. "On all occasions, I have either come as a minister or a partyman to Odisha."