Pranab Mukherjee starts campaign in Chennai, says ‘no scope of miracle’ in presidential poll

Chennai: Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress-led UPA’s candidate for the upcoming presidential polls, kick-started his campaign today and his first stop was Chennai, where he met DMK Chief M Karunanidhi. Mr Mukherjee, who was given a colourful welcome by the DMK party workers, said that it was “natural to start (the presidential) campaign with Mr Karunanidhi’s blessing. I have known him since the 70s and the DMK has been a stable partner in the UPA I and II governments.”

Responding to Mr Mukherjee’s call for support, Mr Karunanidhi said, “Your victory is a foregone conclusion. You are definitely a precious jewel in the crown of the Congress. We solemnly support your candidature and wish you all the success in your endeavours.”

The road to Mr Karunanidhi’s CIT residence in Chennai today had DMK party cadre holding plates of rose petals and candles to welcome Mr Mukherjee, with South Indian music playing in the background.

The DMK also hosted a dinner in honour of the former Finance Minister, which was attended by UPA leaders and central ministers including Home Minister P Chidambaram, M K Alagiri and Narayanaswamy. The DMK was represented by MK Stalin, T R Baalu, Kanimozhi, Dayanidi Maran and A Raja.

Mr Mukherjee said today that he will be “seeking the support of those political parties who have not yet declared their choice for the Presidential election.” His second leg of campaign would be in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Mr Mukherjee, who earlier this week quit as the country’s Finance Minister and filed his nomination papers signed by top UPA leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, has the numbers heavily stacked in his favour. With the support of NDA allies like JD(U) and Shiv Sena, Mr Mukherjee has over 56 per cent of the electoral college on his side.

The former Finance Minister is contesting the polls against former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma. Tacitly referring to what seems to be an inevitable defeat for Mr Sangma, Mr Mukherjee said today, “The presidential election is a matter of numbers. There is no question of a miracle.”

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