Congress will try to unite opposition forces against Modi: B K Hariprasad

BK Hariprasad India Tv

Referring to the 2002 Presidential elections, Banerjee said that the then-Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had pushed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's name, and tried to reach a consensus with parties across the political spectrum. Also, confirmed that Shard Yadav himself to attend the meeting on behalf of Nitish Kumar.

However, his absence on Friday at the luncheon meeting convened by Gandhi to discuss the issue set off speculation that something could be amiss in the opposition camp, more so after the recent Income Tax raids on the properties of RJD chief Lalu Prasad's kin.

Banerjee stressed on the "secularism" as a condition to support the candidate decided by the government, otherwise the Opposition would form a committee to propose a name for the election.

"Elections for the post of President and Vice-President of India are forthcoming. If the opposition wants to keep themselves busy with political meetings it is for them to decide, we have nothing to say in it", he added. This has not happened so far.

A total of 17 parties met for the luncheon meet hosted by Mrs Gandhi, which was apparently a show of strength on the third anniversary of the Modi government.

The parties also expressed their resolve to strengthen floor coordination in Parliament to jointly oppose the Centre's policies "that are imposing unprecedented burden on all sections of our people, farmers, working people, youth, SC/STs, minorities, women and other weaker sections of the society in various parts of the country".

Asked about another term for incumbent Pranab Mukherjee, she said no names were discussed in the meeting.

Banerjee said all the parties were united in criticism of the government over Kashmir, the violence in Saharanpur and demonetisation. Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav said that the only achievement of the Modi government in the past three years was that the Pakistani flag was fluttering in Kashmir.

"The meeting was held in a very good atmosphere". She sought opinion on "how to take things forward".

Sources said that this was the standard protocol as the Opposition needs to give a reason to the government to put up a candidate of its own.

Among those who attended the meeting include Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, NC leader Omar Abdullah, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, Sudhakar Reddy and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. A united Opposition today gave an indication that if the ruling dispensation fails to come up with a consensus candidate with secular credentials for the Presidential poll, it will field someone who shall "steadfastly defend" the country's Constitutional values.

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