Presidential polls: Pranab Mukherjee is UPA candidate

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been named the UPA candidate for next month's presidential elections.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with PM Manmohan Singh Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with PM Manmohan Singh
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) presidential nominee, Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced on Friday and appealed to all political parties for support.

"Pranab Mukherjee has a long and distinguished record of public service standing over five decades. There is broad support for his candidature," Gandhi said after the UPA meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 7, Race Course Road residence.

After making the announcement, DMK leader T.R. Baalu draped a pink shawl around Gandhi's shoulder and gave her a bouquet of white orchids. He then presented an orange stole to the prime minister and to Mukherjee.

The days of tension over, Mukherjee was visibly relaxed with slight smile on his face. There was a round of applause from all the members after the announcement.

Manmohan Singh, Gandhi and Mukherjee then stood up for a photo-op. The prime minister signalled Mukherjee to come and stand between him and Gandhi, who looked tired after the two days of high violtage political drama.

Gandhi then appealed to all political parties, all members of parliament and members of state assemblies to support Mukherjee.

"The leaders of the UPA constituents met today. It was decided to propose Mukherjee as the candidate for the office of the president of India," she said, reading the statement.

Soon after the meeting, Manmohan Singh telephoned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj and conveyed to her the UPA decision, BJP sources said.