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Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik backs Sangma for President

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that he backed tribal leader Purno Sangma for the post of the president, and added that his choice for this highest position is 'succinct' and 'appropriate.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Jun 17, 2012, 01:57 PM IST

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that he backed tribal leader Purno Sangma for the post of the president, and added that his choice for this highest position is 'succinct' and 'appropriate.

He said this while talking to reporters on Saturday in Bhubaneswar.

A firm Patnaik said Sangma was the best candidate to take charge of such an important post.

"Of course, you know very clearly that Mr. Sangma has been announced succinctly and appropriately by me as the candidate for that highest post of our land of India and his own position is that of a very distinguished person, so I had announced quite clearly that he should be the best candidate from my party for the position of President for the republic of India," he said.

Patnaik lauded the efforts of Sangma and praised his ability for serving important positions with such dignity.

"Since you have asked me, as you know, from this very building, the secretariat here in Bhubaneswar, I had announced for the Rashtrapati (president) candidate of my party for the presidential candidate for my party, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is Sangma. I am sure all of you know that he is a very distinguished person, he served in many important positions for our country," he said.

His statement came at a time when the National Democratic Alliance was supposed to formally announce a nominee on Sunday (June 17).

Patnaik said that Sangma not only represents the tribal community, but is also a capable leader and has impressed everyone already when he held important positions earlier.

"He has been the speaker of the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament). I was an MP when he was in that position and of course, we were all so impressed and indeed as MPs, we understood his education, high intelligence of the gentleman, Sangma, who is the candidate of my party, which I announced very clearly in the middle of last month, which is May. All of you know that he is a tribal gentleman," he said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi nominated Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee despite opposition from a key ally, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), within the ruling coalition

The Congress party, however, won support from other coalition partners such as Samajwadi Party for its choice and appeared confident that Mukherjee would win the Electoral College vote on July 19.

Mukherjee is lauded for his ability to reach across party lines, but critics say as finance minister he has been too complacent, failing to rein in spending on fuel, food and fertilizer subsidies and win cross-party support for reforms to boost flagging economic growth.

Mukherjee has served as finance minister, foreign minister and commerce minister twice and also as defence minister. He chairs most of the cabinet committees tasked with making recommendations on important issues. But the job he has always wanted - that of prime minister - has eluded him

Until now, India's president has been viewed as a ceremonial head of state. But with the next elections widely expected to produce a fragmented parliament with no clear winner, Mukherjee, a loyal Congress man, will play a key role in deciding which party takes the lead in forming a new government.

Perhaps more importantly, Mukherjee, 76, now finance minister, could help the Gandhi family keep its grip on power. Sonia's son, Rahul, is a leading contender to become prime minister in any new Congress-led coalition. As president, Mukherjee would have a say in who gets that job.

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