With the ruling BJP yet to initiate efforts for a consensual presidential nominee, the Congress today said that non-NDA parties will make every possible attempt to find “the best person” for India in case the NDA alliance does not reach out to them. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the opposition has made it clear that the BJP-led NDA cannot take the country for granted on the issue and it will put up a concerted fight as it has many “deserving” candidates. He, however, refused to get into names of possible candidate for the July 17 election. Referring to the convergence in opposition parties over the issue, he noted that a sub-group formed to decide on a consensus presidential candidate will meet soon. The CPI(M), on its part, said it is in discussion with other parties for a person with impeccable secular credentials who can discharge the responsibility as a custodian of the Indian Constitution. “The intention is clear that there is a concerted effort and you have seen it in many meetings at Chennai and otherwise of a remarkable convergence of all non-NDA parties to try and make it clear that the BJP-NDA cannot take the nation for granted. “There are many deserving candidates, and if they do not reach out first, these parties will make every possible attempt to find the best person for India,” Singhvi said. The Congress leader said a number of meetings have taken place at the top level to work out the nitty gritty. The Congress President has been taking up the issue and other parties will also have such interlocutors and people set up soon.
“The idea is to coordinate statements, searches, interactions, meetings, discussions etc. But at the moment it is early stage to comment further. We will say as the days go by how it will work. I am not getting into names now,” he said.
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government should have started the process of consultations for a consensual candidate by now, as has been the practice. He said since this has not happened yet, the opposition parties will take the decision, once the notification comes. “We ,therefore, decided to field a candidate who can uphold the constitutional principles of our republic. “We will finalise the candidate based on the timeline for the polls after holding consultations,” he said. Asked about the possible candidates, Yechury said Gopal Gandhi is definitely one of the persons under consideration, but the parties have to come to maximum unity on a name.
A party statement said that for the post of Vice- President, the CPI(M) will seek to field a joint candidate on behalf of opposition parties who will uphold the constitutional values. Leaders of various opposition parties have already met Sonia Gandhi earlier last month after she stepped up discussions for forging opposition unity on fielding a joint presidential candidate. She also hosted a lunch for opposition parties which was attended by leaders of 17 parties recently. Gandhi has held parleys with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, DMK leader M K Stalin, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD’s Lalu Prasad, among others. Gandhi has been at the forefront of efforts to evolve a consensus among opposition parties for putting up common candidates who are “acceptable to the country” for the posts of president and vice president .
“We want the entire Opposition to get together and come up with a candidate who will be good for the country,” Mamata Banerjee had said after meeting Sonia Gandhi. Some feel the united face of the opposition for the presidential poll may well turn out to be a precursor to an anti-NDA front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The presidential election will be held on July 17 and the tenure of incumbent Pranab Mukherjee ends on July 24.