Opposition to brainstorm on joint prez nominee today
Top leaders of several opposition parties will go into a huddle on Friday at a luncheon hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi where they would explore the possibility of fielding a joint candidate for the presidential election.
Sources in these parties said the meeting is likely to be held in Parliament House complex and would be attended by leaders like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav, who is himself a possible contender for the top constitutional post.
Meanwhile, sources said that Left parties will not join the meeting, but CPI- M Rajya Sabha MP and the party's General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has already extended support.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will also not participate in the luncheon. Sources said that no invitation has been sent to Kejriwal from Congress.
But JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and other representatives from other invited parties including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be present on Friday.
Banerjee, who is also the TMC chief, is already in the national capital, and is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi separately today.
Sources said invitations have been sent to JD(U), CPI, CPI-M, SP, DMK, NCP, RJD, TMC, besides some other big and small regional parties.
The main opposition Congress is seeking a larger unity among non-NDA parties ahead of the presidential election which could be taken forward to the upcoming assembly polls in states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, besides the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Ahead of Friday's meeting, a series of parleys have already happened between these leaders on the issue of putting up a joint opposition candidate to take on the official NDA nominee.
Efforts are on to bring arch political rivals in Uttar Pradesh-- Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party--together on a common opposition platform ahead of the presidential poll.