He said unity in the Opposition ranks is the need of the hour as a division in the non-BJP votes has been a key reason behind the party's win in the recent assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and the Delhi civic elections.
Asked about the likelihood of major Opposition parties agreeing to back a common candidate against the BJP-led NDA's choice, he told news agency PTI that he was "hopeful" that it will happen. "We are making efforts to get as many Opposition parties as possible on a common platform for the presidential election. A joint candidate will be the beginning of the coming together of Opposition parties against the BJP," he said.
The Rajya Sabha member and former Union minister claimed that even in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP won an unprecedented 312 seats out of the total 403, the combined votes of the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Congress were more than it.
Asked who could be the Opposition candidate for the presidential polls, he said names would be discussed at a later stage as the first priority is to bring these parties together. With his vast parliamentary experience, Mr Yadav is seen by some as one of the probable choices for a common Opposition candidate for the presidential polls. He declined to comment on this.
The electoral college clearly favours the NDA choice for the top constitutional post, more so after the BJP's emphatic win in Uttar Pradesh. Though it is still short of a clear majority but its leaders are confident of getting the required support.
Many Opposition leaders believe that putting up joint candidate irrespective of the outcome of the elections will mark the coming together of a larger alliance against the BJP in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.