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The Congress will not give walkover to the BJP in the Presidential elections scheduled on July 18, and take a call on the polls after the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday.

Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi is suffering from Covid and as her health conditions improve, she will discuss the issue with the like-minded parties, said a source, adding that the party is mulling over the option to support a joint opposition candidate to test the opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The party has no strength of its own to defeat the yet to be named NDA nominee.

A Congress leader said on condition of anonymity, “The issue lies with Sonia Gandhi and she will take a decision after due consultations.”

Sonia Gandhi is likely to call all the UPA partners to take a collective decision, but the UPA will field a candidate for sure, the Congress leader said.

Another Congress source said that the party can support a joint opposition candidate, but not a BJP nominee though it had supported A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2002 despite the fact that he was a BJP contender.

But that was the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was best at reaching out to the opposition.

Kalam won the 2002 Presidential polls defeating Left party candidate Lakshmi Sahgal. He was backed by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party.

Many feel that it’s not possible to come up with a joint opposition candidate given that many regional parties are likely to go with the BJP, including the BJD and YSRCP, which have good number of MPs in the Parliament.

The biggest vote share among the regional parties is with the DMK, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP). And the SP had supported Kalam in 2002, who was an NDA candidate.

The BJP has a majority in the Parliament, but in terms of big states, which are key to the Presidential elections, its strength has reduced in Uttar Pradesh, while some other crucial states are ruled by the opposition parties, whose unity can pose a challenge for the saffron camp.

In fact, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee has warned the BJP that the Presidential elections will not be a cake walk, as it doesn’t have even half the legislators in the country. – IANS

Syndicated from the weekend leader

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