Mamata: Always stood by Pranab, but he hasnít spoken to me for 8 months

Even as she announced her support for Pranab Mukherjee as the Presidential candidate, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday criticised him, the West Bengal Pradesh Congress as well as the CPM. She was particularly scathing in her attack on Mukherjee.

"We are not supporting him for package because we do not do the politics of package. We are doing it because of our commitment to the people and democracy. Let him become the President. We wish him a long life," Mamata said. "When he was alone in politics, I stood by him. When Pranabda founded his party breaking away from the Congress, he was alone and I stood by him. In 1983, Rajiv Gandhi came to Kolkata and stayed at Nizam Palace for a few days. I used to take care of him and, in fact, went to Tripura, met Rajivji there and persuaded him to take Pranabda back to Congress. For the last eight months he has not called me. I have spoken to other leaders, the Prime Minister, Soniaji, but not to him. I had invited him to come to the Writers' Buildings and have a cup of tea here, but he probably did not have time for that. I hope when he becomes the President he will have some time for that," she added.

Mukherjee, when contacted, was diplomatic and replied with caution and composure. "I am very happy to receive the news of Mamata's endorsement of my candidature. I am happy and I welcome her decision." he said over phone. Regarding her statement that she was instrumental in bringing him back to Congress, he said, "I do not want to rake up old issues..."

Referring to the UPA-II, Mamata said: "In 2009, we were the first party to hand over the letter of support to Pranab Mukherjee. I believe, it helped him gain in stature and also helped build his bright future."

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