Nitish meets Sonia Gandhi, talks grand alliance, presidential poll

Nitish meets Sonia Gandhi, talks grand alliance, presidential poll

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi here amid talks of forging a grand alliance to counter the BJP in 2019 and calls for a consensus opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

Gandhi warmly welcomed Kumar greeting him in the courtyard of her residence and escorted him inside for the meeting that lasted for about 45 minutes. Kumar drove off without speaking to the waiting media persons.

The Bihar Chief Minister is learnt to have requested Gandhi to speak to non-BJP parties on fielding a joint opposition candidate for the presidential elections scheduled later this year.

Immediately after the results of the elections to five state assemblies, Kumar had given a call for opposition unity to take on the BJP that had already set the ball rolling for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Kumar was of the view that the opposition parties should send the first signal to the BJP by fielding a joint candidate for the Presidential elections and not allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi have his way.

He told Gandhi that he had already spoken to CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI Secretary D Raja and NCP chief Sharad Pawar on the issue.

The Congress had earlier favoured a consensus candidate for the post of the president, but wanted the Modi government to make the first move. Congress leaders said if the BJP pushed a RSS man for the top constitutional post, it would definitely be opposed tooth and nail.

Yechury had said on Wednesday that his party was in favour of a consensus candidate for the post of the President.

“Secular supervision is very important for Rashtrapati Bhavan as opposed to communal supervision. We are for a consensus candidate acceptable to all,” he said.

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.

On April 3, Kumar had asked the Congress to take the initiative to bring all the major non-BJP parties together on one platform “to throw the BJP out in 2019 Lok Sabha polls”.

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