Cong, DMK paint Chennai red for Pranab Mukherjee

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The kind of arrangements both DMK and Congress parties made to receive UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee at Chennai is proof of the intensity the president election campaign has touched this time.

Mr Mukherjee should perhaps be one of the very few presidential candidates in the recent decades to be ‘eulogised’ so much even before the election.

From airport to Gopalapuram and Satyamurthy Bhavan, Congress functionaries erected numerous posters and hoardings praising him as “future chief of defence” (Varungala muppadai thalapthiye) and future President of India (Varungala Janathipathiye) among others.

In fact, the number of hoardings and banners kept for welcoming the UPA presidential candidate on GST Road and Anna Salai outnumbered the electric poles.

An otherwise dull looking and deserted Congress state headquarters Satyamurthy Bhavan wore a new look and it was buzzing with activity on Saturday with serials lights being hung all around to welcome Mr Mukherjee.

Setting aside their usual differences, the warring Congress factions came together to put up an elaborate show while hosting the septuagenarian presidential candidate.

State Congress chief B.S. Gnanadesikan described the meeting at Bhavan as “interaction” while he called the feast organised by DMK at a five star hotel as “introduction of UPA members” in Tamil Nadu.

The DMK, for its part, arranged a grand Chenda melam to receive Mr Mukherjee at party chief Karunanidhi’s CIT colony residence.

Pranab hopeful of Didi support

UPA presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday once again sought the support of Trinamul Congress (TMC) among other political parties who were yet to take their stand on presidential elections.

Talking to reporters, a confident Mr Mukherjee, who visited Satyamurthy Bhavan after over two decades, appealed to all political parties, who have not taken a decision, to support his candidature.

Asked if he would seek TMC support, he said, “She has not taken a decision yet. I have appealed to her.” When asked if he would consider the clemency plea of the three Rajiv killers if elected President, Mr Mukherjee said that he would go by Constitution.

Referring to Article 53 of the constitution, which defines the role of the President, Mr Mukherjee referred to former Presidents Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain and added that the constitution clearly stated the President’s role and he “would not bother to work out or carve out anything specific.”

Earlier, speaking at a dinner hosted by the DMK, Mr Mukherjee said that some offices “should not be sought after but should be offered”.

“The beauty of the Indian constitution is that the notional executive head (President) does not exercise the real executive power. Therefore, I always believe that there are some offices, which are not to be sought but offered.

So I was really delighted when UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi offered me the post and was endorsed by all leaders of UPA,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Karunanidhi stated that Pranab’s victory was a foregone conclusion and said at the dinner, “You are most-suited to the post of the President of India. You will definitely be a priceless jewel on the crown of Indian democracy.”

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