Oppn to form panel for selection of presidential candidate but will await govt proposal
Leaders of 17 parties including some traditional arch-rivals – Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh and Trinamool Congress and Left in West Bengal — also attacked the NDA government’s policies.india Updated: May 27, 2017 00:25 IST
The Congress-led Opposition parties decided on Friday to form a panel to pick their presidential candidate but insisted that they will first wait for the government to propose the name of a “suitable and consensus” candidate.
At a luncheon hosted by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, leaders of 17 parties including some traditional arch-rivals – Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh and Trinamool Congress and Left in West Bengal — broke bread while attacking the NDA government’s policies.
While Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar skipped the meeting, his Janata Dal (United) was represented by Sharad Yadav and KC Tyagi.
In a joint statement, the parties later said, “If acceptable, consensual candidates do not emerge, then we shall decide to field such persons who shall steadfastly defend the constitutional values of our Republic.”
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee described the ideal candidate as someone with “secular and democratic values who knows the Constitution”.
The meeting also discussed Kashmir and Saharanpur. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was present. The panel, suggested first by NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the meeting, will consist of “at least seven” members.
The Opposition, with 4.02 lakh votes, has geared up for a fight though it is all set to lose as the NDA is way ahead with 5.37 lakh votes. Some Opposition parties are looking at the possibility of a grand alliance against PM Narendra Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections. RJD chief Lalu Prasad said Opposition could defeat the BJP in 2019 if there is a grand alliance at the national level.
Questions were, however, raised why Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD were not invited. Kejriwal had assured Banerjee that he will support an Opposition candidate.
At the meeting, the Congress president opened the floor for discussions but insisted that no name will be discussed. She sought opinion on “how to take things forward”. BSP chief Mayawati assured the meeting that she will be a part of any broad-based grouping to take on the BJP.