A belligerent Opposition is hoping to make the upcoming presidential election as the beginning of a political unity among the non-NDA parties to build a secular alliance to take on the BJP. Leading the project are Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and her son and party vice-president Rahul.
Today, Sonia spoke to Samajwadi Party veteran Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad, while Rahul dialled up former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The two Congress leaders are also expected to meet Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee soon.
HERE IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Reeling under the BJP's advance after the party's victory in the recent elections, the Opposition parties are coming together on a single platform to stop the "communal forces" elect a President with secular credentials in the upcoming elections.
- Earlier, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar had called on Sonia Gandhi to discuss a joint Opposition presidential candidate. Pawar's name has also come up as a likely candidate to be India's next President.
- Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury have also met Sonia Gandhi on the same matter.
- All the parties agreed that it was their "ideological challenge" to fight "communal and fascist forces" and the need was to unite all "progressive secular forces".
- "Do we want communal supervision or secular supervision? The result will have a bearing on the situation in the country. So, it is going to be an acid test. We appeal that secular parties come together," Yechury recently said.
- Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, "If we have to save the country from fascist and communal forces, the only way forward is unity of progressive forces... They have to come together... If ideologies like communism, socialism and secularism come together, only then we can fight the fascist forces. Unfortunately, it has become a battle of personalities. Comparisons are not of ideologies but of individuals. If we have to fight these these forces, then we have to take the narrative of the debate towards ideology. This is an ideological fight, not of personalities."
- The Opposition parties, which also included the CPI, the NCP, the JD-S, the Samajwadi Janata Party, the Socialist Party, and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party had recently gathered to mark the 95th birth anniversary of socialist leader Madhu Limaye and marked the day as the 'Unity of Progressive Forces'.
- The ruling BJP, however, has not named anybody as its candidate for the post. Its ally Shiv Sena has repeatedly called for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat to be the government's nominee to "ensure a Hindu Rashtra".
- BJP veteran LK Advani's name was also in the reckoning, a possibility now belied by him being an accused in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, which the Supreme Court has ordered to be fast-tracked and concluded within two years.
- While President Pranab Mukherjee's term expires on July 24, Vice-President Hamid Ansari will remit office in August.
(WITH INPUTS FROM KUMAR VIKRANT SINGH)