Four former chief ministers, three of them NDA allies, are meeting on June 6 in Hyderabad to finalise a common strategy for the presidential polls.
Jayalalithaa, AIADMK chief, INLD's Om Prakash Chautala, and Samajwadi Party (SP)'s Mulayam Singh Yadav would be getting together at TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu's home in Hyderabad next Wednesday to discuss the issue. Asom Gana Parishad president, Brindaban Goswami, would be present as well.
The five leaders had last met on April 23 in an election rally in Allahabad to pledge their support for SP in the Uttar Pradesh election.
Announcing the Hyderabad meeting, SP general secretary, Amar Singh, said on Friday that the leaders would ``sit together and decide on a common strategy'' for the presidential election. Though names of various leaders are making rounds, no party has yet announced any name.
Singh added that his party was in constant touch with CPI (M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, on the issue. ``We have had discussions and made it clear to the CPI (M) that SP would never support any Congress-backed candidate,'' Singh said. He added that if the Left parties were to put up a candidate, and who would go on to become a consensus candidate, then the SP would have no problem in supporting the individual.
Party sources, however, hinted that if External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is floated as a candidate, the SP could support him because of his political stature. The Left parties are also thought to be in favour of Mukherjee.
On the issue of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat fighting the election as an independent, Singh said that his party has not been approached by the BJP. ``We are only in touch with CPI (M), and not even other Left parties, on the issue,'' he said.
Asked if he ruled out possibility of backing Shekhawat for the top job, Singh said ``I am constantly in touch with Karat and if I am in touch with Karat, then how will we be in touch with the BJP or RSS?''
In a related development, it was learnt that NDA could put up Shekhawat as a nominee possibly of groupings outside the opposition alliance. His candidature could be proposed by any of the non-NDA, non-Congress parties, hinting at any of the third front parties.