Prez polls: Cong harps on `consensus` manta

Manish Tewari also dismissed BJP`s criticism on Congress` relations with its allies saying "we have always behaved with dignity with our allies"

New Delhi: Congress, which has begun talks with allies to decide on Presidential candidate, Monday said it was for "widest possible consensus" and "maximum consultations" on the issue and disfavoured any speculation about names.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari at the same time ducked queries on whether Congress finds itself averse to the idea of an "apolitical" President, a demand raised by various parties.

"There is no question of A political or B political or non-political president. Our choice like everybody`s choice will be subscribed by the constitutional provisions required for election of a president.... Congress is always for a president that fits the bill as per the provisions dealing with the election of a president," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

Noting that that the term of the present President expires in July, the Congress spokesperson disfavoured speculations about the highest constitutional authority of the country.

"Let us not speculate.... Let us not second guess if a preliminary consultation process is underway. The President of India is an extremely august office. This is not an office which should be brought into the realm of unnecessary speculation," he said, adding that the process should instead be allowed to be fructified.

Tewari said that in matters related to election or appointment of constitutional heads, Congress has followed a policy that "whatever happens should have widest possible consensus. Whatever happens should have largest possible consent."

Asked whether Congress favours another term for former President Abdul Kalam, he said it was "extremely immature to start speculation about names. We should keep in mind the dignity of the highest constitutional office of the country".

Tewari also dismissed BJP`s criticism on Congress` relations with its allies saying "we have always behaved with dignity with our allies" and reminded BJP of the desertions of constituents from NDA.

Referring to the ongoing discussion on presidential election, he said, "Yes, there may be discussion taking place at certain levels. should allow the whole process to play itself out other than create an unnecessary hype about the whole thing."

Defence Minister AK Antony had recently met DMK chief Karunakaran at Chennai and both have understood to have held discussion on possible candidates for the next president.

Asked about the outcome of the talks, DMK MP Kanimozhi said, "It was one-to-one discussion and our leader will decide."

Reports had it that the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Speaker Meira Kumar were discussed in the meeting.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also met Congress President Sonia Gandhi a few days back on the issue.

A party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, dubbed the meetings as "just broad sounding out" adding that final choice will depend on whose name, the maximum consent can be acquired.

The leader also felt that offering vice presidentship to some senior leader from NDA like Prakash Singh Badal in order to make consensus with BJP on President`s nominee would not be a bad idea as the Opposition party may not like to antagonise its crucial allies by negating it.

The party leader at the same time refused to buy arguments that BJP may not be averse to supporting a particular candidate belonging to Congress party on account of its bonhomie with him.

"Relationship will not be substituting BJP`s political strategy" was his refrain.


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