‘There will be a contest’: CPI(M) says Opposition will put up own candidate for Presidential poll | india-news | Hindustan Times
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‘There will be a contest’: CPI(M) says Opposition will put up own candidate for Presidential poll

Yechury said the opposition parties will call a meeting on June 22, a day before Kovind is due to file his nomination papers, to decide their candidate.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:38 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury during a press conference in Agartala, in this file photo from May 2017.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury during a press conference in Agartala, in this file photo from May 2017.(PTI)

The Left parties on Monday said the opposition will put up its own candidate against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s nominee Bihar governor and Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind, unimpressed by the ruling dispensation’s choice for India’s next president.

“There will be a contest,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told the Hindustan Times after BJP president Amit Shah announced Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate.

Yechury said the opposition parties will call a meeting on June 22, a day before Kovind is due to file his nomination papers, to decide their candidate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh and sought their support for Kovind. The Congress president told him she will talk to her party leaders before taking any decision.

Kovind’s candidature is likely to help the BJP reach out to the Dalits, who make up more than 15% of India’s population and are electorally significant in many big states.

The Communist Party of India has also demanded that the opposition should put up a candidate against Kovind.

The opposition parties had formed a 10-member panel to shortlist its candidate for the presidential poll. The panel members waited till the government completed its talks with different parties before taking the final call.

They, however, have a near impossible task to win the contest as it is short of 1.5 lakh votes from the majority mark.

The decision comes amid protracted negotiations in the opposition camp to zero in on a consensus candidate – seen as an opportunity to rally parties for a grand anti-BJP coalition before the 2019 general elections.

The BJP is 100,000 votes short of a majority in the presidential electoral college, which means it will not only have to convince allies but also rope in fence-sitters such as the AIADMK of Tamil Nadu, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal from Odisha and Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi to put its nominee in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.