The campaign is led by West Bengal PCC chief, Pradeep Bhattacharya and party MPs, Adhir Chowdhury and Deep Dasmunshi as acounter to West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, who is opposing Mukherjees candidature by floating other names

.. FP NEWS SERVICE New Delhi Notwithstanding the ruling Congress remaining undecided on who should be its presidential candidate, the Congress MPs and MLAs have come out in open demanding the post for Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The campaign is led by West Bengal PCC chief, Pradeep Bhattacharya and party MPs Adhir Chowdhury and Deep Dasmunshi as a counter to West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee who is opposing Mukherjees candidature by floating the names of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former West Bengal Governor, Gopal Gandhi and former President, APJ Abdul Kalam.

They decided to lobby for Mukherjee as the alt39alt39 son of Bengalalt39alt39 instead of waiting for the final word from the party leadership because they cannot allow Mamata in her attempts to snatch away the honour due to him.

The Congress MPs and MLAs will be here next week to lobby with Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make Mukherjee the partys candidate for the Presidents post. Though Mukherjee has kept silence, the partys Bengal leaders would not lobby for him without his tacit approval.

Only two days ago, Mukherjee indirectly acknowledged his desire to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan in an interview to a financial daily when he said it has huge well- manicured lawns to have fewer rounds unlike 40 rounds he takes in his present bungalow every day for the morning walk.

Chowdhury said, they had already sought appointment from the Congress president. ” It is for the Congress leadership to decide who is Indias next President, but we will convey our desire for Pranab da,” he said. He said there would be a wider acceptability of Mukherjee, particularly after Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam

Singh Yadav, declaring that his party would support any non- bureaucrat from the UPA as it automatically rules out Vice- President, Mohd Hamid Ansari, who is a retired Indian Foreign Service ( IFS) officer.

Mukherjee has already made known publicly that he was not interested in contesting another Lok Sabha elections and hence the best option is to utilise his services as the President of India, the West Bengal leaders say.

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