Though not overtly excited, the Left parties are open to backing the Congress choice for the post of President — provided the candidate enjoys the widest possible support.
The Congress and CPM stepped up talks on Thursday, even as veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan pitched for the first Dalit woman president without actually naming anyone. Top Left leaders maintained that the Congress hasn't conveyed the choice to them yet.
The four Left parties — CPM, CPI, RSP and All India Forward Bloc — with a combined vote share of 4.7% is more than the Trinamool Congress’s 4.4% in the electoral college. The role of Left parties became crucial after Mamata Banerjee sprang a surprise on Congress by announcing three names for the top constitutional post, including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Left parties are likely to meet on June 21 to firm up their final strategy for the Presidential elections, to be held on July 19.
In a swift move, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is in the race for the President's post, spoke to the top leadership of the West Bengal unit of the CPM — state secretary Biman Bose and former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Though the Left parties seem amicable enough, they need a strong rationale to support such a decision.
Meanwhile, veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan said on Thursday that his party favoured a Dalit woman as the next President. “Mahatma Gandhi has said one good thing — among many other good things — that a Dalit woman should be made President,” Bardhan said.