Thu, 14 Jun 2012 14:55:20 GMT | By IANS

Cornered Congress to 'reach out' to smaller parties

New Delhi: Manmohan Singh will continue as prime minister till 2014, a cornered Congress broke its silence to declare Thursday, amid indications it would reach out to smaller parties and others like the RJD in a bid to neutralise the newly-formed axis of Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the presidential elections.

Cornered Congress to 'reach out' to smaller parties

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, a key member of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and SP's Mulayam Singh Yadav, who props the government, Wednesday snubbed the Congress by rejecting its candidates - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. It's shock list instead had Manmohan Singh, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and former speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

On Thursday, a miffed Congress said it could not afford to spare Manmohan Singh and also rejected Kalam and Chatterjee for the July 19 presidential poll. "UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is talking to its allies and supporters, including smaller parties to build consensus on the issue," Congress media department chief Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.

"When the Congress decides, it will be one name," he said. Congress insiders said the party's 'reach out policy' for the crucial presidential election, in which the Trinamool and SP have decisive numbers, would include small parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), others which have only one or two members in the house and possibly even sections of the Left.

Party sources said this indicated a new approach by the Congress to widen the support base for the presidential poll, something it had not cared to do all these days.

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