Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed Friday denied contacting former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to persuade him to back out of the presidential race, after Congress nominated Pranab Mukherjee for the top job.
"I have neither called up Dr Kalam nor sent any text message to him. This is a false news doing rounds in a section of the media. I categorically deny the allegation of calling up Kalam and requesting him to back out of the presidential race," Ahmed told IANS.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government's reliable trouble-shooter, was Friday named the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) candidate for president and found immediate backing from several parties including the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
In less than 48 hours, the Samajwadi Party did a U-turn on its support to Mukherjee as the country's president, now backing him whole-heartedly.
On Wednesday, Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had, along with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, virtually rejected the name of Mukherjee, a suggestion made by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The SP and the Trinamool Congress had Wednesday named Kalam as one oftheir three preferred candidates for president. On Thursday, Banerjee said Kalam was their number one choice and reiterated it after a meeting with Mulayam Singh.