The race for the President’s post is set to pick up speed in the first week of June when the Congress is expected to begin another round of consultations with UPA constituents.
This will be followed by discussions with supporting and other parties.
Since the Congress leadership is keen on evolving a consensus on the next presidential candidate, a source said consultations with the opposition parties, including the BJP and the Left, couldn’t be ruled out.
“We are not afraid of a contest. But as the President’s post is the highest constitutional office, it should stay above political and other considerations….We would be happy to have the opposition parties on board on the issue,” a senior Congress leader said.
The party brass has already held one round of talks with its allies during which it did not put forward any name but sought suggestions from leaders of alliance partners.
But this time, the sources said, the Congress will propose some names and seek the opinion of its allies in a bid to arrive at a broader consensus.
So far, the presidential race has narrowed down to vice-president Hamid Ansari and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee but the sources did not rule out the emergence of a dark horse in the run up to the elections for the coveted post in July.
However, key UPA allies and even the Samajwadi Party (SP) have favoured a political person for the next President’s post.
The BJP had initially opposed the candidature of Ansari and Mukherjee but later had later said that it will formally respond once the Congress announces its nominee. However, BJP’s key NDA ally, JD(U), described the two as suitable candidates.
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has been called on June 4 to discuss political and economic situation in the country with sources not ruling out the possibility of discussions on the presidential poll and price rise.