New Delhi: As the Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandra Shekhar Rao holds parleys with other opposition leaders and seeks a new opposition front, the Congress appears to be in a dilemma.
The Congress has yet not started the consultation process for the Presidential post and the UPA has also not taken any decision on the candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls so far. Amid all this the Telangana Chief Minister is pitching for a non-Congress joint opposition alliance.
Sources said in his meetings with top leaders of different parties the President’s election has fared prominently. On Saturday he met Samajwadi party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.
Top Congress leaders say that Sonia Gandhi will start the consultation with like-minded parties, including the non-UPA ones, but first she is likely to take the views of the UPA allies.
In the just concluded ‘Chintan Shivir’ there was no serious discussion on the Presidential polls as the party was only focused on its internal affairs, sources said.
Congress knows the reality that the grand old party has no strength of its own to defeat the yet to be named NDA candidate, but the ruling coalition is short of votes to get a simple majority and the votes of non-NDA and non-UPA parties can play the game in the elections.
Congress sources said that the party may go for a joint opposition candidate, which can test the opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
However, a Congress leader said that “the issue may come up in early June and Sonia Gandhi may call all the UPA partners to take a collective decision, but UPA will field a candidate for sure.”
Another Congress source said that the party can support a joint opposition candidate if all the opposition comes together and fields one candidate. Many feel that it is 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 a good number of MPs in Parliament.
The BJP has a majority in 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 can emerge a key player has but parties like the BJD has 12 Lok Sabha and nine Rajya Sabha members, which have 8,496 and 6,372 vote strength, respectively, while the YSRCP has 22 MPs with a vote strength of 15,576 in the Lok Sabha and 4,248 votes in the Rajya Sabha, which is enough to bail out the ruling party and they have MLAs in their states as well.
The biggest vote share among the regional parties is with the DMK, Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP).
The electoral college, comprising 776 MPs from both the Houses and 4,120 MLAs of all the states and Union Territories, has 1,098,903 votes, and a majority is 549,452 votes. As far as the value of votes is concerned, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of votes, approximately 83,824, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal.