New Delhi, Apr 21: JD(U) President Sharad Yadav could emerge as the joint opposition candidate for the presidential election scheduled later this year.
There were some signs of coming together of opposition parties as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar flew in from Patna on Thursday to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The two had discussed the upcoming presidential election and opposition unity to counter an aggressive BJP. Soon after Kumar had left, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, another votary of a joint opposition candidate in the presidential election, met Gandhi.
Political circles in the capital are abuzz with Sharad Yadav as the possible joint opposition candidate against the official nominee that would be fielded by the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A section of the opposition also believes that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar could be a better candidate, given his warm relations with leaders across the political spectrum. This section believes that with Pawar in the fray, the opposition can engineer a rift within the NDA as Shiv Sena could favour a Maharashtrian in Rashtrapati Bhawan, over the official nominee.
In the past two presidential elections, the Sena had voted in favour of Congress nominees – Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee. Gandhi responded positively to Yechury's suggestion of a joint opposition candidate for the presidential elections. Kumar had requested Gandhi to take the lead and coordinate with opposition leaders to forge a strategy for the presidential elections.
Yechury asked Gandhi to convene a meeting of opposition leaders to discuss the issue.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too met BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneshwar on Thursday. BJD has been supportive of the Modi government on a range of issues in Parliament. Speaking in Kolkata on Friday, Banerjee made a strong pitch for unity among regional parties.
The opposition leaders have been in touch with Kumar already already deliberating on these matters with Yechury, CPI Secretary D Raja and Pawar. Separately, Yechury has also held informal discussions with Pawar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
As the SP and BSP gave their worst ever performance in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, BSP supremo Mayawati too had spoke in favour of a coalition of opposition parties. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had welcomed Mayawati's remarks, while his father Mulayam Singh Yadav did not find the idea interesting.