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Nitish meets Sonia; JD-U keen for common candidate in presidential polls

21 April 2017

JD (U) chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence here on Thursday, a move that comes amid the Opposition's effort to come together and take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's saffron juggernaut.

According to highly placed sources, during the meeting, which lasted for an hour at 10 Janpath, Nitish Kumar while discussing Presidential election strategy and it's candidate with Congress president said that she is the tallest leader as far Opposition camp is concerned.

Janata Dal (U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said Mr. Kumar was of the view that "there should be a joint opposition candidate for the top constitutional post and Sonia Gandhi being the leader of the largest opposition party should take the lead". "But sources said the chief of the Janata Dal United, Congress's senior partner in the three-party Grand Alliance that kept the BJP at bay in Bihar, has been scouting for allies for a nationwide 'Mahagathbandhan" to beat them in the 2019 general elections.

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He said the ruling grand alliance in Bihar will be strengthened further.

There has been speculation that Mr Kumar was considering an alliance with the BJP, fueled by his invitation to BJP leaders for Makar Sankranti feast, his party's deteriorating relation with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the BJP's sweeping victory in Uttar Pradesh. President Pranab Mukherjee's term ends in July.

At the meeting with Gandhi, Kumar is understood to have emphasised that a defeat of the NDA nominee would come as a huge morale booster for Opposition parties.

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The two discussed the current political situation in the country and also the possibility of an alliance at national level ahead of 2019 general elections.

"We discussed the possibility of fielding a consensus candidate for the poll".

Drumming up support for himself, Mr Kumar has already spoken to Hardik Patel-led front in Gujarat for a grand alliance to take on the BJP in the state, and has also evinced interest to join hands with the Congress.

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Yechury too had yesterday expressed the need for the opposition parties to field a consensus candidate for the election to ensure "secular supervision" of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Nitish meets Sonia; JD-U keen for common candidate in presidential polls