With many Opposition regional parties said to be keen on a non-Congress common candidate for the Presidential elections, sources in the party on Wednesday indicated that the party has an “open mind” about it. They reasoned that the idea is to zero in on a person with the widest acceptability.
Signalling that the party will not insist on a Congress leader if the Opposition comes together for a common candidate, a source in the party said that once consultations among opposition parties are over, an effort would be made to get “broad-based support” by reaching out to even NDA allies. “We will reach out to all non-BJP parties,” the senior party leader said.
A senior Left leader told The Indian Express that some opposition parties, such as the BJD, may be unwilling to support a Congress candidate. While it is too early to zero in on names, the leader said that there is a possibility of a “non-Congress politician” emerging as a consensus candidate.
The names of JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and NCP chief Sharad Pawar — besides that of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar — have been doing the rounds as possible candidates. “Consultations with all parties are on, and no one is being seriously considered (as of now),” the Left leader said.
To further deliberations on a common candidate, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who met National Conference working president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday, is likely to meet BSP chief Mayawati, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banwrjee and DMK leader M K Stalin in the next few days. Sonia has already had one round of discussion with Pawar, Sharad Yadav, Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Sources in the Congress said party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has spoken with Akhilesh Yadav, while Sonia has reached out to Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Sing Yadav. Sonia has also spoken with RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
The Opposition Wednesday began an effort to reach out to fence-sitters such as the Biju Janata Dal, the ruling party in Odisha. Sources said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury is likely to meet Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to discuss the possibility of a joint opposition candidate.While opposition leaders acknowledge that numbers are not in their favour, they are firm on forcing a contest to try and stop the BJP juggernaut. “We cannot let the dictum of one man prevail,” one leader said.
There are also talks that the Opposition may approach a non-politician such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen or historian Irfan Habib to be the non-NDA candidate for the Presidential election(THE INDIAN EXPRESS,2017).