TMC cries foul as Pranab calls up rebel MP Suman
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Efforts to bring about a rapprochement between the the Congress and its angry ally Trinamool Congress over the election of the President suffered a setback on Wednesday after Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress nominee for the top job, spoke to rebel TMC MP Kabir Suman, apparently to enquire about his health. An enraged TMC reacted strongly, accusing the union finance minister of trying to split Trinamool over the presidential vote and said he would not succeed.
Sources in both parties said that mediators had been at work to arrange for a one-on-one meeting between Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee when the former is due to visit West Bengal on Friday.
Over the last two days, the Congress high command was going easy on Banerjee and also urging the state unit of the party to exercise restraint and not speak out against Trinamool, and especially Banerjee. But those gestures didn't seem to work, with Banerjee appearing uncompromising. With such efforts not making much progress, Mukherjee was forced to resort to other tactics, the sources said.
Suman, the TMC MP from Jadavpur, said Mukherjee called him to enquire about his health and never for once asked him for his vote in the President's election. Suman, a singer-turned-MP, has been critical of Banerjee in the past saying she had changed after becoming chief minister and that she was going the Left way. He has been unwell for some time and was due to undergo surgery.
Suman, who seemed overwhelmed by Mukherjee's phone call, later said that Mukherjee is the best presidential candidate in the race. He rated Mukherjee above former president A P J Abdul Kalam and added that Kalam had already been President. "Pranabbabu was an exceptional parliamentarian and the country needed his sagacity and composure at this juncture of extreme instability," Suman said.
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