Pres poll: Sonia to meet Mamata, Maya to forge Opposition unity

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday stepped up discussions for forging opposition unity on fielding a joint presidential candidate, holding talks with working president of the National Conference Omar Abdullah.

Gandhi, who has been at the forefront of efforts to evolve a consensus among Opposition parties for putting up common candidates for the posts of President and Vice President who are “acceptable to the country,” will be holding parleys with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati and DMK leader M K Stalin soon, Congress sources said

They added that the meetings with these leaders will be held over a week or 10 days

The Congress chief has already held talks with several opposition leaders including Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav of the JD(U), NCP president Sharad Pawar and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, besides Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary P K Kunhalikkutty

She has separately held telephonic conversation with SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD’s Lalu Prasad, even as party vice president Rahul Gandhi also held consultations with Sharad Pawar, Yechury and Uttar Pradesh’s former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, the sources said

A senior Congress leader said opposition parties are trying to build a consensus on the issue.

The sudden flurry of activity by the opposition to forge a strong alliance to take on the Narendra Modi-led NDA in the Presidential election has come after a string of victories for BJP in state assembly polls and municipal elections

Some feel the united face of the opposition for the presidential poll may well turn out to be a precursor to an anti-NDA front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election

The presidential election has to be held before July 24 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends

He had taken office in July 2012, defeating the NDA’s candidate late P A Sangma.-Agencies

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