Presidential elections: Opposition set to draw joint strategy

10-member group gathers today to chart the course for putting up a joint Presidential candidate

June 13, 2017 10:14 pm | Updated June 14, 2017 12:56 am IST - NEW DELHI

In full splendour:  An illuminated view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan

In full splendour: An illuminated view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan

Leaders of top Opposition parties will meet here on Wednesday to discuss option on a joint candidate for the upcoming Presidential and Vice Presidential elections. Thus far, sources said, no one from the government has been in touch on the names the ruling coalition is considering.

The 10-member group set up by the Opposition that will meet for the first time after its constitution, these sources said, will also discuss the farmers’ agitations that have broken out in different parts of the country. The committee has been set up not merely for the Presidential and Vice Presidential polls, but also to promote Opposition unity.

Sources said that if by Wednesday no one in the government gets in touch with them, the committee members may spend more time discussing the feasibility of a common agenda on how to highlight agricultural distress and rural unrest in the country.

The Opposition’s decision to meet on Wednesday came in the wake of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah announcing that a panel of three senior ministers — Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and M. Venkaiah Naidu — would talk to allies and Opposition parties to evolve a consensus on the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates.

The Opposition — 17 political parties — have already been in touch with each other on the subject, meeting in twos, groups and, finally, at the lunch hosted last month by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has taken the initiative to bring as many parties on one platform as possible. In the Opposition circles, the top name doing the rounds is that of former Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

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