Presidential poll: Sonia Gandhi reaches out to Opposition leaders on fielding ‘common candidate’

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has tasked senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge to hold talks with Opposition parties and build consensus on fielding a common candidate for the presidential poll.

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi has reportedly deployed Mallikarjun Kharge to hold talks with Opposition parties on fielding a common candidate for the presidential poll. (PTI photo)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has reached out to Opposition leaders including DMK chief MK Stalin, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury on the issue of fielding a common candidate for the upcoming presidential poll.

Gandhi has directed Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge to hold talks with Opposition parties and build consensus on who should be nominated as candidate for the next President of India, sources said.

A Congress Working Committee member said, “Kharge is tasked by Congress President to find out the mind of non-NDA, non-UPA parties. He will hold meetings with Opposition party leaders and find out the probable names of candidates.”

The Election Commission on Thursday announced that polls to elect the successor to President Ram Nath Kovind will be held on July 18, with results slated to be declared on July 21. Kovind’s term ends on July 24.

“A total of 4,809 electors will vote in the elections. No political party can issue a whip to its members," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said.

The nomination can be filed either by the candidate himself or by any of his proposers or seconders between 11 am to 3 pm till June 29, after the issue of notification on June 15.

Anyone desiring to contest the presidential poll would need 50 electors as proposers and 50 others as seconders, the EC said. The candidate would also need to deposit an amount of Rs 15,000 as security.

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The upcoming elections would have 4,809 electors, comprising 776 MPs and 4,033 MLAs. These include 233 Rajya Sabha members and 543 from Lok Sabha.

Going by its strength in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, as well as in many state assemblies, the BJP is in a comfortable position to ensure the victory of the candidate nominated by it in the upcoming election.

Despite not having numbers on its side, the Opposition is likely to put up a joint candidate for the election and consultations in this regard have already begun.

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