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Oppn unity in mind, Nitish Kumar meets Sonia Gandhi ahead of presidential elections

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has been pitching for opposition unity, holding separate meetings with NCP president Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2017 21:19 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Nitish Kumar,Sonia Gandhi,Presidential elections
CM Nitish Kumar with deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav during roadshow in Motihari, Bihar.(PTI)

Pursuing plans to put up a common opposition candidate for the presidential elections scheduled in July, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.

After the BJP’s thumping win in Uttar Pradesh, regional party leaders have initiated efforts to stitch together an alliance with the Congress to put up a joint fight against the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

Sensing possibilities of putting up a forceful challenge to the BJP in the coming presidential elections, regional leaders have started efforts to bring together a “grand alliance” of Opposition parties at the national level.

Despite the huge wins in UP and Uttarakhand, the BJP is 20,100 votes short of the halfway mark in the Electoral College that elects the President.

Against the total strength of 1.09 million votes of the Electoral College, the BJP-led NDA has 54, 9442 votes. In order to get its nominee elected as President, the NDA will have to depend on the support of regional parties such as the AIADMK.

At the meeting with Gandhi, Kumar is understood to have emphasised that a defeat of the NDA nominee would come as a huge morale booster for Opposition parties.

Kumar in recent weeks has been pitching for opposition unity, having held separate meetings with leaders such as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.

Last month, Kumar travelled to Bhubaneswar for a meeting with Odisha chief minister Navin Patnaik.

At the meeting with Gandhi, Kumar is said to have stressed the need to replicate the “Bihar alliance model” at the national level.

With Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav having been under fire for alleged land deals, Kumar is also understood to have discussed the political situation in the state. In the state, Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), RJD and the Congress are alliance partners.

First Published: Apr 20, 2017 21:18 IST