As the race to the Rashtrapati Bhawan hots up, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari appear to emerge as the frontrunners.
However, the veteran troubleshooter of the Congress party seems to have an edge as there are strong voices in his support within his party as well as outside.
While the West Bengal Congress has said that Pranab is the best candidate for the post, key UPA constituent Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party also appear to be not averse to the idea.
The Left Front is also satisfied with the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee.
Besides, UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is also learnt to be in favour of the Finance Minister for the top constitutional post. According to an NCP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Pranab suits the party more.
What goes in favour of Pranab, who has been a parliamentarian since 1969, is his experience in handling the various situations that the party and the government have faced in the past.
The Congressman from Bengal has served three Prime Ministers – Indira Gandhi, PV Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. He is believed to be a Gandhi family loyalist and also the architect of Sonia Gandhi’s entry into politics.
However, given the poor show by the party in the recent state assembly elections, there are doubts on whether the Congress would let Pranab go before the 2014 general elections.
Therefore, there is strong possibility of the other frontrunner, Hamid Ansari, being made the candidate for the coveted post.
Most of the parties, in and outside the UPA, have backed the candidature of Ansari as the new President along with Pranab.
Important NDA ally, JDU chief Sharad Yadav has said that the party is not averse to both Ansari and Pranab in the race to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Several non-UPA parties are favourably disposed towards Ansari's candidature.
For the Samajwadi Party, opposing a minority candidate from Uttar Pradesh would probably not be politically correct and same is the case with the BSP, which is already out of power in UP.
Senior JDU leader Shivanand Tiwary, in his response to the candidature, had also pointed while Pranab was such a senior leader, Hamid Ansari was also the Vice President, and that elevating a Vice President to the post of President had been a tradition in the country.
However, as of now, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has maintained that no name has been finalised as of now for the new President. It is yet to be seen who the Congress brings in as the candidate when it opens its cards.