Sonia Gandhi has been at the forefront of evolving a consensus among Opposition parties for a joint candidate 'acceptable to all'.
New Delhi: Congress on Wednesday said it will have an ‘open mind’ if Prime Minister Narendra Modi consults it and other Opposition parties for a consensus candidate for the next President of India.
According to NDTV, Congress sources also said that the party is open to supporting Pranab Mukherjee for a second term, who has said he will consider it only if the government asks him.
But the Congress does not think Modi will consult it. "Modi will not consult the Opposition. He does not consult his own cabinet, leave alone allies and senior BJP leaders...He follows 'my way or the highway' policy," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was quoted as saying.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi earlier on Wednesday met National Conference working president Omar Abdullah and is learnt to have discussed the possibility of putting up a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
Gandhi has been at the forefront of evolving a consensus among Opposition parties for a joint candidate "acceptable to all".
The Congress chief has already met a number of leaders, including Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, both of the JD(U), Sharad Pawar of the NCP and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja.
Gandhi is likely to meet other Opposition leaders like West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, besides M K Stalin of the DMK in the next few days, the sources said.
She has also been holding discussions over telephone with SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav on a united opposition taking on the BJP in the presidential elections, due in July, to replace Pranab Mukherjee.
Sources said the Opposition is trying to put up a united face and jointly fight the presidential poll even though the numbers have tilted in favour of the NDA after Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results.
Parleys are also being held among leaders of other Opposition parties.
The presidential election has to be held before July 24 when Mukherjee's term ends.
He had taken over the post in July 2012, defeating the NDA candidate late P A Sangma.
Congress leaders have been saying that the party would take a "conscious, concerted and balanced call" on a joint Opposition presidential candidate after consultation with all Opposition leaders.
There has been a sudden flurry of activity by the Opposition to forge a strong alliance to take on the Narendra Modi-led BJP after its recent winning streak in several states.
The BJP currently has governments in 13 states and is a junior partner in the ruling alliances in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh.
Some feel that the united face of the opposition for contesting the presidential elections may well turn out to be a precursor to an anti-NDA front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha