Prez Polls: Will Oppn consolidate?

The BJP’s reach out on Presidential polls that started on Friday has not cut much ice with the Opposition, which believes that the ruling side not indicating a name is a “deliberate” ploy but would help consolidate the non-NDA side.

The Opposition is entering a hectic phase of consultations in the coming days and expects to decide on a candidate by the middle of next week with sources saying their goal is to come up with a name before the government side.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, whom senior BJP ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu met here following, feels that the government’s efforts were not sincere, a view echoed in the opposition ranks.

After the meeting, Yechury minced no words in describing the meeting as a “pre-concluded PR exercise” in which the BJP wanted to show a charade of reaching out to opposition. Besides Yechury, the BJP leaders had with opposition parties Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of CPI, Samajwadi Party and BSP.

“Without names, they are meeting opposition. That means it has made improbable for any opposition party to talk about support. So those opposition parties who were thinking of probably supporting a candidate whom they could vote for has no option,” a senior Opposition leader said.

The BJP’s ‘no names strategy’ may also be to force the opposition to put up a candidate as it wants to show that they won against a joint candidate, the leader said. Sources said that it could also mean that the BJP would want a political candidate, who adheres to the party ideology.

Some of the Opposition parties had earlier indicated that they would vote for an NDA candidate in case they put up a nominee who could appeal to their constituencies.

Amid rumblings in the opposition ranks, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Yechury held a meeting on Thursday where the former made it clear that they were for a fight in the Presidential polls.

Sources said Sonia also indicated Congress was not averse to the candidature of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who has started reaching out to parties. Gopalkrishna Gandhi has already spoken to leaders, including AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal who said his party was honoured to support him.

The Opposition parties’ prominent leaders would consult over the weekend before a meeting of 17 parties, which attended a luncheon meeting called by Sonia last month. Though AAP and Naveen Patnaik-led BJD are not part of this grouping, it is expected that they would join them in voting. AAP has already conveyed their support to Yechury on Presidential polls.

June 16, 2017

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