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Congress open to talks on Prez candidate
June 11, 2007 21:01 IST
The search for the United Progressive Alliance's candidate for the Presidential elections moved into top gear on Monday with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] even as Congress appeared to have changed its stance, saying it was open to the idea of consultations with the opposition on the issue.
The Congress's change of stance came amid signals that Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil's possible candidature has evoked reservations from some UPA allies.
The Congress is now open to the idea of consultations with the opposition on the issue of Presidential elections, spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi said at the AICC briefing.
The move comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's appeal to the opposition National Democratic Alliance to 'pay back' by supporting the UPA nominee for the top post.
Congress had so far remained unenthusiastic about former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's call for consensus and a similar line was adopted by the Left parties.
The shift in stand appears to have come following the announcement by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa, a key leader of the newly formed eight party regional grouping, that the Front would oppose a Congress nominee and may back Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat if he contested as an independent.
The Left parties, which had at one point favoured External Affairs Miniter Pranab Mukherjee for the high office, are meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Presidential issue amid indications that a meeting of UPA leaders was likely on June 15 to finalise the candidate.
BSP supremo Mayawati, whose party's opinion counts to ensure a smooth run for the UPA candidate to the Raisina Hills, is already camping in New Delhi.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad's birthday on Monday is expected to provide one more occasion for Gandhi and Dr Singh to informally discuss the issue.