Top Opposition leaders will meet Wednesday to formally begin the exercise of finalising common candidates for Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. Sources said a 10-member sub-group set up from among the Opposition parties will work towards finalising the candidates, while watching out for any move from the government‘s side. Contrary to reports, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is not heading the sub-group. The NCP has nominated Praful Patel to the panel. In his absence, party MP Tariq Anwar would attend the meetings. Many Opposition parties, including Congress, are keen that Pawar contest for the President’s post. While he has shown no interest, attempts are on to persuade him.
The Opposition has already reached out to Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is also being considered. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Mallikarjun Kharge are Congress representatives in the sub-group. The other members are JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Lalu Prasad, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’ Brien, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Mishra and the DMK’s Alandur R S Bharthi.
The parties have already said they were willing to “consider” if the ruling coalition proposes an “acceptable” name. “If acceptable candidates do not emerge, then we shall decide to field such persons who shall steadfastly defend the Constitutional values of our Republic,” the 18 parties had said after a meeting hosted by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on May 26.