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Prez poll: Opposition keeps options open, but will wait for NDA’s announcement

Congress sources added that if the BJP proposes incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s name for another term, the Opposition will agree, but it will not pitch for Mukherjee on its own.

india Updated: May 11, 2017 23:48 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Congress sources added that if the BJP proposes incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s name for another term, the Opposition will agree, but it will not pitch for Mukherjee on its own.
Congress sources added that if the BJP proposes incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s name for another term, the Opposition will agree, but it will not pitch for Mukherjee on its own.(AP File Photo)

From Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi to Babu Jagjivan Ram’s daughter Meira Kumar, the opposition camp is keeping its options open for fielding a candidate in the upcoming presidential polls.

“There is no final decision on who will be our candidate. If the BJP fields some hardcore RSS functionary as its nominee, we may think about Gopal Krishna Gandhi. If they nominate Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu, we may consider fielding former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar,” said a leader.

Congress sources added that if the BJP proposes incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s name for another term, the Opposition will agree, but it will not pitch for Mukherjee on its own.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar is seen as the ideal candidate by a section of the Opposition.

The leaders feel if Pawar can be convinced to fight the polls, the Opposition can expect support from the Shiv Sena and some other NDA constituents and fence sitters, given the Maratha strongman’s personal rapport with leaders cutting across party lines. “But he hasn’t said yes so far,” said a Congress strategist.

The opposition parties, however, will wait for the Narendra Modi government to reveal the name of its candidate first. “Depending on their candidate, we will decide who can be our nominee,” said a senior Opposition leader.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, with the help of senior leaders such as CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, is talking to opposition parties to forge a united front to take on the NDA in the presidential polls.

The Opposition has reached out to parties such as Biju Janata Dal, YSR Congress, TRS and DMK. Next week, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to meet Gandhi to discuss the strategy for the polls.