KOLKATA: CM Mamata Banerjee is keeping her cards close to her chest before she meets Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Tuesday.
With 60,000-plus votes she alone commands in the presidential polls, the Trinamool chief knows why the Congress needs her to field a secular candidate. At the same time, Mamata has also done the homework on how the saffron surge in the recent assembly polls -Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur -has given the BJPled NDA an edge over the opposition in the race for the President.
The President of India is elected by an electoral college that’s formed by 776 parliamentarians and 4,120 legislators. The total strength of the electoral college is 10,98,882 votes and the halfway mark is 5,49,442. Even if the Cong ress-led opposition comes together with the Left, Trinamool and other secular parties, they will still remain far behind the half-way mark.
And even if NDA ally Shiv Sena doesn’t vote for the BJP‘s presidential candidate, there are others -Jagan Reddy from YSR Congress and also a section of the AIADMK -that are likely to support Modi’s candidate.Mamata is aware of the ground reality and is not in a mo od to stick out her neck on this issue as she had done while opposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive.
Former West Bengal go vernor Gopal Krishna Gand hi’s name has recent ly gained currency in political circles. Sources say that Mamata may propose Gandhi’s name to the Cong ress president as a suitable secular candidate for the pre sidential polls. Congress won’t oppose this name, nor will the Left have any reservations given Gandhi’s rapport with former CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.The Bengal CPM led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may flag its dissent over Gandhi’s name because Bhattacherjee didn’t like his role in the Singur episode while he was the governor of West Bengal. Whatever the views, it is not known whether Gopal Krishna Gandhi is game to such a proposal.
Yet, Mamata hasn’t given up. She will be meeting the Congress president to keep the doors open for a broader secular platform with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “I have family ties with Soniaji.I come from the Congress family. Soniaji wanted me to come to Delhi to talk about the presidential polls. Let us see how it works out. I am always positive to proposals for the good of our nation,” Mamata said in Delhi.