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Talks with UPA soon, says CPI (M)

In electoral college, UPA and Left have more numbers: Karat


  • Incumbent Kalam is retiring on July 24
  • NDA is for consensus

    New Delhi: The CPI (M) on Sunday said it would soon start consultation with United Progressive Alliance partners on the Presidential election and pointed out that the numbers in the electoral college were on their side.

    "In the electoral college, UPA and Left parties have more numbers," CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat told PTI on the sidelines of a function here.

    Mr. Karat said the CPI (M) would start consultation with UPA alliance partners soon on the issue of Presidential election.

    "There will be a secular President," he said.

    Mr. Karat on Saturday said the party was in touch with the Congress and other parties within and outside the UPA on the names of possible candidates while not ruling out the possibility of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee being in the race.

    Left criteria

    The Left criteria for a Presidential nominee are the person must have a political background and firm secular credential. The future President must be able to exercise judgment to maintain balance between Parliament, Executive and Judiciary.

    Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is emerging as National Democratic Alliance's frontrunner for the Presidential elections, has history on his side. Because, so far those Vice-Presidents, who ran for the Presidency, have been successful in reaching the Raisina Hill.

    The six Vice-Presidents who became Presidents were: S. Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, V.V. Giri, R. Venkatraman, Shanker Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan. In 1969, the late V.V. Giri created history by defeating the official Congress candidate, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. Giri was put up as an independent candidate by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to upstage her detractors from the party and the development later resulted in a split in the organisation.

    The elections are expected to be announced anytime now as incumbent A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is retiring on July 24.

    The NDA had earlier favoured a second term for Mr. Kalam but has now given up the idea. It is currently singing the tune of consensus, which has so far not got any response from the ruling UPA while the Left seemed unenthusiastic.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are making efforts to have a combined candidate of the UPA-Left-Bahujan Samaj Party to ensure smooth sailing of the ruling side in the event of a contest.

    With the presidential race wide open, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Sunday did not rule out the possibility of him being in the race.

    "I don't know anything. I am just a `sadha' man. Whatever work is deputed to me I do that," Mr. Shinde said on the sidelines of a Power Ministry event here.

    On his being the favourite choice of BSP supreme Mayawati, he said that he was reading these things in newspapers only and he "really" did not know about any such developments.

    Mr. Shinde's name has been doing the rounds as one of the UPA's possible candidates for the Presidential elections. — PTI

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