| Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee arrives at Congress Bhavan in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday evening. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, July 11: The UPA’s presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee today took umbrage at his rival P.A. Sangma’s description of Raisina Hill as a dumping ground where the Congress had decided to toss a “failed” finance minister.
“Whether I have failed or succeeded is for the posterity to judge. But, such phrases should not be used. I don’t consider Raisina Hill to be a dumping ground,” said the former finance minister, who arrived here in the evening on a fleeting four-hour visit.
Mukherjee, who met state Congress leaders including MPs and MLAs during his brief stay, however, refused to comment on Biju Janata Dal supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s allegations that the UPA candidate had doled out huge sums of money to states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal in his capacity as finance minister with an eye on the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“I am not here as a Congress member or as the representative of the UPA government. I cannot comment on this. However, this issue can be raised in the Parliament. There is also an RTI provision through which one can get all the information,” he said.
Mukherjee also sought to steer clear of the office of profit controversy.
“The Election Commission has made it clear. It was widely published yesterday. I will not comment on this issue,” he said.
The former finance minister, who recalled his long association with Odisha, said while most parties had extended support to his candidature, some, including the Trinamul Congress (TMC), were yet to take decision.
“I understand TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has said that she will take a call three or four days before the election. I am waiting for that decision,” he said.
Mukherjee, who was accorded a rousing reception at the Congress Bhavan with colourfully attired tribal dancers in the lead, sought to make a comparison between the presidency of United States and India. He said the President of India did not enjoy the power and position of his counterpart in the US, but he represented the unique civilisation and ethos of the country.
The UPA’s presidential nominee appeared to turn emotional while describing his long association with the Congress and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
“Thirty-nine years ago, I was inducted as a minister by Indiraji. I have served all the Congress prime ministers,” he said.
Mukherjee told reporters that he was addressing for the first time without “an identity”. “As I talk to you I face a predicament. Earlier, I had an identity, a Congress leader or a minister. Today, I have none,” he said in a lighter vein, adding that there were many issues he would have spoken about but cannot.