I hope Mamata will support me: Pranab Mukherjee

Former finance minister of India and presidential nominee of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Pranab Mukherjee today expressed the hope that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would extend her support for him.

"Mamata is yet to take her decision on Presidential candidate. I hope she will support me," he said adding: "Mamata has explained the reasons for not supporting me as she believed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was a better candidate."

In an interview with a leading Indian TV news channel, the veteran Congress leader said, "I feel honoured as the UPA leadership has nominated me for the President's post. I am happy to do what my party wanted me to do. I don't regret that I did not become the Prime Minister."

The Congress party stalwart, who has earned his reputation as the UPA government's biggest crisis manager and the consensus builder, was also quoted as saying that in the coalition system, it is not easy to decide on the Presidential candidate.

Pranab also lauded the Prime Minister by saying, "Dr Manmohan Singh is worthy of being the Prime Minister. He will be the second man who will complete the second term in office."

When asked comment on the challenge thrown at him by the opposition candidate PA Sangma, the Congress leader said, "I love Sangma, but there is no scope for a debate on Presidential candidate because a debate takes place only on issues."

However, he categorically turned down speculations that he fears the presidential debate will get distracted from real issues and focus more on the individual's personal achievements and stature.

Asked what he actually intend to do after retiring from politics, Pranab said, "After retiring from politics, I want to read books. Library would have been my destination."

The 77-year-old Congress leader talked about his distinguished political career spanning over four decades and revealed his personal side a day after he filed nominations for the July 19 Presidential election.

Pranab filed the papers in company with the entire UPA leadership, including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and a host of cabinet ministers and leaders from supporting parties.

After submitting the papers, he also expressed his gratitude to all the parties, who have supported him.

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