Leaders of non-NDA parties engaged in backchannel talks to gauge each other’s minds Thursday morning before they formally meet for talks later today to decide on a presidential candidate opposite NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind, PTI reported.
Following JD(U) throwing its support for Kovind, the Congress held discussions with leaders of a number of parties in an effort to keep the Opposition united. Ironically, it was JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar who had suggested a joint opposition strategy on the issue of presidential nominee.
“No matter what happens, we will contest the election,” a senior Left leader was quoted as saying by PTI.
There were efforts made to ensure that the Opposition did not lose the support of the NCP, who held internal discussions to decide on its strategy for the presidential election. Following a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar at his residence, top Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel reportedly discussed the Opposition’s plan for the July 17 presidential poll. According to sources, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechurt was also part of these discussions.
The Opposition had earlier considered putting out the name of former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi against Kovind, but are now looking for a Dalit name. Among the names discussed were that of former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar.
On Wednesday, Meira Kumar met Sonia Gandhi along with other senior party leaders. Congress has expressed hope that leaders of all the parties which attended the May 26 lunch hosted by Gandhi would be present for the meeting on Thursday.