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Sonia to meet Opposition leaders on Presidential polls

Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to meet leaders of non-NDA parties to pursue plans for putting up a common candidate for the Presidential elections scheduled in July.

india Updated: May 06, 2017 16:04 IST
Srinand Jha and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Congress President Sonia Gandhi in expected to  meet NDA parties to explore teh possibility of putting up a common candidate for the Presidential election in July.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi in expected to meet NDA parties to explore teh possibility of putting up a common candidate for the Presidential election in July.(PTI)

Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to convene a meeting with leaders of non-NDA parties to pursue plans for putting up a common candidate for the Presidential elections scheduled in July.

The conclave – planned in May second half – will work out an outreach plan to mobilize support with leaders of state parties.

As part of the plan, Gandhi will establish contact with the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, while leaders such as Sitaram Yechury, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sharad Pawar would be entrusted the task of ensuring the support of the BJD, AIADMK and Shiv Sena respectively for the Opposition nominee, sources said.

“We expect that an agreement will be formalized shortly”, Janata Dal (U) spokesman K C Tyagi said.

Despite the BJP’s thumping win in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the saffron party remains short of the halfway mark in the Electoral College that will elect a new President before Pranab Mukherjee’s term expires on July 25.

Sensing the possibility of upstaging the BJP’s plans to elect its nominee as the next President, Opposition party leaders including Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal-United), Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxists) and D Raja (Communist Party of India) discussed the issue at individual meetings with the Congress President last week.

Approximately short by 21,000 votes in the Electoral College, the ruling coalition will need support from parties such as the AIADMK or BJD to ensure that its Presidential nominee gets through.

In March, the BJP’s griping ally Shiv Sena, said Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s name should be considered for the next President of India. The Shiv Sena had said that if the dream of a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation) has to be fulfilled, then Bhagwat should be made President. But Bhagwat himself said he was not interested in the President’s post.

Read more:Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi amid talks of joint Prez nominee by Opposition

As a precursor to the bigger conclave being planned in May second half, Opposition party leaders are coming together on the same platform on Monday at a function to mark the 95th birth anniversary of late socialist leader Madhu Limaye.

The function – to be inaugurated by Leftist historian Irfan Habib - will be attended by leaders including Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Digvijaya Singh (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D P Tripathi (NCP), Atul Kumar Anjaan (CPI), Kamal Morarka (SJP) and Kunwar Danish Ali (JD-S).

“The conclave (Madhu Limaye function) is about the Presidential elections and also about Opposition unity. The country’s pluralistic, democratic traditions – the secular principles enshrined in our constitution – are under serious threat because of the BJP’s communal agenda. The need for Opposition unity has never been bigger”, CPI leader Atul Anjaan said.