Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Sonia Gandhi explore possible national tie-up?

Lalu Prasad

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today called on Sonia Gandhi at the Congress president's New Delhi residence, against the backdrop of efforts by many leaders to unite anti-BJP forces and field a joint Opposition candidate in the June presidential election as the first step. "But it is up to an all-India party like the Congress to take the initiative forward", said JD (U) spokesperson KC Tyagi.

Asked if President Pranab Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, could be fielded as the common candidate by the opposition parties, the source said "he maybe ... if all parties agreed (to the proposal)". The Congress is a partner in the ruling alliance in Bihar that includes JD-U and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Sources said that Nitish and Sonia met at the latter's residence and are believed to have discussed the current political situation in the country and deliberated on the grand alliance.

The grand alliance buzz gained momentum after the BJP's stupendous show in the recent Assembly polls.

Yechury-Gandhi meeting followed JDU leader Nitish Kumar's meeting with the Congress chief on Thursday after which the JDU too publicly spoke in favour of fielding a joint presidential candidate.

"We want one name for the presidential election who will be supported by all non-NDA parties".

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"Yechury and Gandhi discussed the possibility of fielding a candidate acceptable to all secular opposition parties".

"The President's post is very critical, and we require a candidate who is committed to the Indian constitution to secure democratic values".

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on upcoming presidential polls.

From the CPI, its national council secretaries D Raja, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Amarjeet Kaur and Shamim Faizi took part in the meeting, besides Reddy. "A "mahagathbandhan" like this at the national level will be "maha safal" (a grand success)".

"He did speak about the need for unity among opposition parties", he added.