June 14: Till now dark horses attracted consensus but this time it is “dark mare” as the presidential candidate of UPA-Left.
A non entity, to some extent, Pratibha Patil, Governor of Rajasthan, today emerged as a surprise front runner for the post of first citizen and inhabitant of Rashtrapati Bhawan. Concerned circles are abuzz with a possibility of a first woman president of the candidate.
Pratibha emerged as a consensus candidate of congress led United Progressive Alliance and Left parties after later persisted with their opposition to Congress party’s first choice-union home minister Shivraj Patil and Rajya Sabha member and former head of princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, Karan Singh. .
Incidentally Pratibha shares her surname with union minister and her husband shares his name with her contender, BS Shekhawat.
The 72-year-old former Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, Maharashtra minister and first head of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress party has been Governor of Rajasthan for nearly three years. She is the first woman governor of Rajasthan and presently the only woman governor in the country.
After endorsing the support of Karunanidhi’s DMK and Mayawati’s BSP, Congress was much eager to secure Left parties support for its candidate against “independent” vice president BS Shekhawat.
Patil’s name cropped up in the morning when some allies of UPA in the centre gave broad hints about the women candidate as a president.
Karunanidhi had last night, after his meeting with Singh and Gandhi, said that two-three names were under discussion for UPA nominee.
The DMK patriarch had said that he had come here to mediate between Congress and the Left to resolve differences between them. Left has been pitching for External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the top post who expressed his non-availability by saying, “I don’t have any intention. I am ready to do what party decides.”
Congress has asked leaders of UPA allies to be available in the capital for consultations till June 17 indicating thereby that the formal announcement of the alliance nominee would be made by that day.
The opposition camp also geared up for a fight with NDA leaders suggesting that the formal announcement of Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's nomination as an independent candidate would be made on June 18.
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