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Somnath texts Pranab wishes

Calcutta, June 16: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has sent a congratulatory text message to Pranab Mukherjee, offering the UPA’s presidential nominee his best wishes.

“After hearing about Pranabbabu’s nomination for the President’s post, I sent a congratulatory message to him through an SMS,” Chatterjee told The Telegraph from London. “I offered my best wishes to him. I don’t know whether Pranabbabu checks messages coming into his mobile. But I felt I should congratulate him.”

Chatterjee — whose name had been proposed by Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav along with that of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh — said Mukherjee was the “best candidate” in the “present circumstances”.

“Why not? The President is the face of a country… and in the present circumstances, he is the best candidate. He has vast administrative experience,” he said, asked whether the finance minister would make a good President.

“However, a President should act according to the country’s Constitution. We don’t want a too active or too inactive President,” he added.

The former CPM leader said no political party had got in touch with him “with regard to the presidential polls” after Mamata named him as one of her nominees on June 13. “Nobody contacted me with regard to the presidential polls. Nobody talked to me about the developments. Whatever I gathered was from the media,” he said.

Chatterjee said a presidential election required a “degree of decorum”. “A degree of decorum is needed and everybody should try to maintain that. However, it’s really unfortunate that such things are not happening,” he said.

“Ideally, there should be a consensus on the presidential choice. But we find that conflict and confrontation are happening even in the presidential polls. That is sad.”

Dinesh ‘happy’

Trinamul leader Dinesh Trivedi expressed happiness at Mukherjee’s nomination. “He represents the entire country but, personally, I am happy that a Bengali will become the next President,” he said.

“My congratulations (to him) and I wish him all the best,” Trivedi, who was asked to quit as railway minister by his party after he raised train fares in some classes, said.

On Kalam, Trivedi said: “He’s a great person. But if he is not ready to become a candidate, it’s like a groom who’s not ready for marriage and you are asking him to get married even without a bride.”