Oppn to intensify efforts for joint Presidential candidate

21 May 2017

As the Centre's ruling NDA maintained silence over its nominee for the presidential poll, major Opposition parties plan to intensify efforts for finalising a joint candidate for the top post for which they are likely to approach regional players.

Opposition sources said efforts are on to bring political rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party on the same page, while also trying to rope in Naveen Patnaik's BJD in Odisha. Senior Opposition leaders at the forefront of the move to field a joint candidate against the NDA nominee are likely to meet SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati and Patnaik over the next few days.
They could also approach the BJP's ally Shiv Sena. The two oldest saffron partners have been locked in rancorous disputes despite being coalition partners in governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra.

The talk of a consensus candidate gained momentum after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar spoke in favour of a second term for incumbent Pranab Mukherjee and prodded the NDA government to build a consensus around him. The Congress, to which Mukherjee belonged before becoming the President, has so far been non-committal on a second term for him. "It is up to the government to bring about a consensus among all on a candidate it proposes," a senior Congress leader said, and maintained the Modi dispensation was unlikely to support Mukherjee for a second term.