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Sonia meets Yechury as efforts to field common Oppn candidate for prez poll gather pace

Ahead of the presidential elections, Sonia Gandhi of the Congress met CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury after holding talks with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2017 21:20 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Sonia Gandhi,Sitaram Yechury,Nitish Kumar
Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.(PTI)

Efforts to field a common Opposition candidate for the presidential have gathered momentum, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi meeting CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Top sources told HT that two leaders decided on Thursday night to ask all Opposition parties if they are interested to field a candidate against the BJP-led NDA.

Gandhi called Yechury for talks on the upcoming Presidential election after meeting Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Yechury also held a separate meeting with Kumar.

Sources added the CPI(M) chief has signalled his willingness to field an Opposition candidate and harped on the need for a “very strong secular candidates”.

Sources, however, claimed that no specific names were discussed in the Gandhi-Yechury meeting.

“The drill will be to first talk to all parties and know if they are willing to give the government a fight. If there is a consensus, then we will discuss specific names as possible candidates,” said a senior Opposition leader.

The CPI(M) central committee, in its recent meeting, had harped on the need for a “secular supervision” from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, especially in the current political scenario where the BJP is growing from strength to strength.

The BJP and even the NDA stand short of majority in the 11 lakh vote-strong electoral college of the presidential election. Both sides would be looking at the AIADMK and the BJD for their support, as these two parties are seen as kingmaker and their support may tilt equations.

Sources said the preliminary consultation with Opposition parties would be completed by next week and thereafter the Opposition may also choose to wait for the government to name its candidate.

Congress, the largest Opposition party, has taken the lead for consultations with other parties to seek their consensus. Some NDA partners may also be sounded out for any possible support for a non-BJP candidate.

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 21:19 IST