Opposition intensifies unity efforts ahead of presidential poll

Nitish Kumar meets Sonia Gandhi calls for Opposition unity to take on PM Narendra Modi

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi here with the view to discuss larger opposition unity to take on the BJP in future elections, as well as the upcoming presidential polls.

The meeting followed a discussion between Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) president Nitish Kumar on the issue yesterday, sources said.

Despite his not so stellar performance in terms of development, Kumar, however, is hoping to exploit his "clean image" to place himself in the shortlist of the next anti-BJP Prime Ministerial candidate before Congress has a chance to project party General Secretary and Congress heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi as the party candidate for the Prime Minister's post.

Asked if President Pranab Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, could be fielded as the common candidate by the opposition parties, the person said, "He maybe. if all parties agreed (to the proposal)".

He said the ruling grand alliance in Bihar will be strengthened further.

Both are expected to discuss current political situations in the country and forming a grand alliance to take on the BJP in the next general elections. However, in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls, the JD (U)-RJD-Congress alliance emerged as a success political story which in fact then had also shaken the BJP's leadership.

The meeting assumes significance at a time when both BSP and SP have come out in support of building an anti-BJP platform.

"Gandhi responded positively to a suggestion in this connection by the CPI (M) leader", a source in the Left party said.

From the CPI, its national council secretaries D Raja, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Amarjeet Kaur and Shamim Faizi took part in the meeting, besides Reddy.

Yechury too had yesterday expressed the need for the opposition parties to field a consensus candidate for the election to ensure "secular supervision" of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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