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Presidential poll: Cong to play constructive role in deciding consensus oppn candidate

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New Delhi, Jun 15: The Congress will play a constructive role in ensuring all opposition parties arrive at a consensus candidate for the presidential poll, and urged them to be proactive rather than reactive in making the decision.

Mallikarjun Kharge

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge made the remarks after attending a meeting of opposition parties called by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

The Congress MP said his party has no particular candidate in mind for the poll, and that it will sit together with other parties to arrive at a name acceptable to all.

The opposition meeting was attended by Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala on behalf of the Congress. Kharge said the consensus opposition candidate for the highest constitutional post in the country should be someone committed to uphold the Constitution and preserve the secular fabric of "our diverse society and speak out boldly against the forces of prejudice, hatred, bigotry and polarisation".

Kharge said as Congress President Sonia Gandhi is unwell and has been hospitalised, she has asked him to speak to leaders of various parties opposed to the "divisive and destructive policies of the RSS/BJP" to explore the possibility of a joint opposition candidate for the presidential election.

He said he was in touch with a number of parties. In a statement issued after the meeting of the 17 opposition parties here, Kharge said, "The Congress party will play a constructive role in ensuring that the parties assembled here this afternoon arrive at a consensus candidate in the next few days. Let us be proactive and not be reactive.

"The Congress Party has no particular candidate in mind. It will sit together with all of you and arrive at a candidate acceptable to all," he said. "Such a candidate we believe," he said, "should be someone committed to upholding the Constitution of India, its values, principles and provisions in letter and spirit, someone committed to guaranteeing that all institutions of our democracy function without fear or favour."

He said the opposition should be someone committed to protecting the rights of all citizens and preserving the secular fabric of the country's diverse society.

"Someone committed to speaking out boldly against the forces of prejudice, hatred, bigotry and polarisation and someone committed to being a powerful force for furthering social justice and empowerment."

The TMC supremo had convened the meeting at Constitution Club here to deliberate and arrive at a consensus opposition candidate for the Presidential election. Leaders of 17 parties attended the meeting, but some parties like the TRS, AIMIM, AAP, SAD and BJD were not present.

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