Congress, BJP mum on presidential race
New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) A day after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked people not to speculate on who the next president will be, both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted cautiously Monday.
Leaders of the two parties said they would not engage in any more speculation until a formal decision was taken on the presidential contest due in July.
"The post of president is too high to engage in any speculation business," Congress spokeperson Manish Tewari said. "As and when there is some development, we will tell you."
Tewari added that all names would be discussed "and whichever name has highest consensus" would be picked.
Another party leader said: "We can't stop allies from commenting on their choices and preferences.
"Our party has not decided on anything as yet. Even the procedure for election has not been announced yet. How can we comment on the candidate?"
The Congress stand was in contrast to until two days ago when party leaders were willing to comment on the possible candidature or otherwise of Mukherjee in response to questions from journalists.
The BJP reacted likewise Monday.
A senior party leader from the Rajya Sabha said he would not comment.
Another party leader went a step further, saying his party would not want to speak on the subject until the Congress announces its candidate.
"(Congress president) Sonia Gandhi is keeping her cards close to her chest," he said. "Why should we comment and get trapped?"
Speculation about who the next president is likely to be has mostly centred around Mukherjee and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari, with some possible dark horses.
Most pundits believe Mukherjee is way ahead in the race although the finance minister, one of the most senior politicians in the country, has said he has no idea about his prospects.
On Sunday, Mukherjee said in Dhaka that he himself was in the dark about the presidential candidature.
"In our system of decision making, unless a decision is taken, nobody dicloses it officially. So I am in the dark as you are (about the presidential candidate)," he said.
Political parties such as the DMK have openly expressed their backing to Mukherjee, while the Left and some others, including a section of the Congress, are also for him.
Ansari also enjoys wide support but is way behind the finance minister.
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