NEW DELHI, June 14 � Stage was set for a confrontation and a likely contest for Presidential poll with the Congress party today deciding to take on TMC-SP combine by rejecting all their candidates on a day of major developments that could impact the country�s political landscape, reports PTI.
A contest between Pranab Mukherjee, likely to be the UPA candidate, and former President A P J Abdul Kalam, sponsored by the two regional parties, appears to be on the cards although BJP, the Left parties and some others are yet to make up their mind.
Shocked by the unilateral announcement of the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee as Presidential candidates by SP-TMC yesterday, the Congress today decided to pick the gauntlet and proceed with having a candidate chosen by it and the other UPA allies.
Mukherjee, the Union Finance Minister, appears to be the front runner for the UPA but the talk in political circles tonight was that if the battle became too close to call in his case a new name may be considered. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar�s name was making the rounds.
The Congress leadership � Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Ahmed Patel � met tonight to chalk out the strategy, having consulted key allies DMK and NCP, who are backing any Congress candidate, earlier in the day.
Authoritative Congress sources said later that the focus was only on one candidate i.E. Mukherjee and the party was willing to confront TMC-SP, who made it clear today that they were backing Kalam.
�There is no dark horse,� the sources said and indicated that the UPA allies will meet tomorrow to firm up a