Opposition To Meet On Friday To Choose Candidate For President

President Pranab Mukherjee's term comes to an end in July and sources close to him said he refuses to consider a second term unless asked by the government.

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Opposition To Meet On Friday To Choose Candidate For President

Over last few months Sonia Gandhi had taken lead to draw up a shortlist for the post.

New Delhi:  The groundwork on choosing common candidates for the post of President and Vice President over, the opposition leaders will sit together on Friday with a hope to arrive a decision. While there is no word on which leaders will attend the meeting, there are speculations that the Congress is trying to get support from Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal - parties which have often differed with the BJP's stand despite being allies. 

Over the last few months Congress President Sonia Gandhi had taken the lead to touch base with various opposition leaders and draw up a shortlist. 

Mrs Gandhi has already met Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar, and Sharad Pawar, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party and spoke to RJD chief Lalu Yadav on telephone.

Last week, she also conferred with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. After the meeting, the Bengal chief minister said no names were discussed, but she underscored the need for a common opposition candidate to take on the one fielded by the NDA. 

Her son and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has also held discussions with Left leader Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav.

The opposition shortlist initially contained the names of former Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and JD-U leader Sharad Yadav.  Mr Pawar, however, has shot down Mrs Gandhi's offer for the top job.

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President Pranab Mukherjee's term comes to an end in July and sources close to him said he refuses to consider a second term unless asked by the government. While most opposition leaders are agreeable with a second term for President Mukherjee, the indications are that the Narendra Modi government would want one of its own in office.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not conveyed any decision to Pranab Mukherjee on whether they would like a second term for him. Preparations are on in full swing to get his post-retirement bungalow ready in New Delhi.

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