NEW DELHI: Considering Presidential election in upcoming July as ‘litmus test’ for Congress, its party President Sonia Gandhi is reaching out to all opposition parties to select a non-NDA candidate. In the series of meetings, National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah met Sonia Gandhi at her residence. Insiders in the Congress claim that bring all non-NDA parties together to push for a unanimous candidate who can uphold the Indian constitution in letter and spirit, will be a test for Congress leadership towards ‘Grand alliance; to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi driven victory run of BJP.
Sonia Gandhi also believed to have talked to Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav over phone to seek support. Earlier JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and left leaders including Sitaram Yechuri and D. Raja have met Sonia Gandhi to work out modalities to select a presidential candidate. Former JD (U) President Sharad Yadav had already made it clear that there was a need to aggressively push for “inclusive political ideologies” at a time when minorities across the country were feeling insecure.
While CPM leader Sitaram Yechury has said the challenge was to build a narrative of “real nationalism” versus the “Hindutva nationalism” of the BJP.
But, recent victory of BJP in important state likes Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa has given BJP a certain edge over opposition to chose Presidential candidate.
Sources maintained that Sonia Gandhi is expected to convene a meeting with leaders of non-NDA parties in the second week of this month to fine tune plans for a common candidate for the Presidential elections. She is scheduled to meet BSP supremo Mayawati and West Bengal chief minister and AITC leader Mamta Banerjee in a day or two. However, the Mamta Benerjee had sought meeting with Sonia Gandhi last month during Parliament session, but due to Sonia Gandhi’s medical illness, meeting could not happen. Informal meetings have already been happened with NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
A Congress insider said that while party vice president Rahul Gandhi has been given task to look after party affairs, Sonia Gandhi has taken responsibility to form “grand alliance’ to unit all opposition parties to take on mighty saffron brigade.