Yechury meets Patnaik, discusses common candidate for prez poll


Bhubaneshwar: CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury late on Thursday met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and said the BJD chief favoured joint efforts to field a common secular candidate for the coming presidential poll.

The meeting took place amid heightened activities among opposition parties ahead of the presidential election, to be held before July 24, when President Pranab Mukherjee completes his tenure.

“I had a cordial meeting with the chief minister and discussed the upcoming presidential election. The CM said we all will try for a common secular candidate,” Yechury told reporters after meeting Patnaik here.

The CPI-M leader said he emphasised the need to take collective efforts to have an acceptable, common candidate for the top post who can undertake “secular supervision” as it is essential at this juncture.

Asked about Patnaik’s response, Yechury said the BJD chief “also agreed that we should work together to choose a person with secular credentials”.

The president is the custodian of the Constitution and the person occupying Rashtrapati Bhavan should have commitment towards secularism.

To a query, the CPI-M leader said no name was discussed as the possible presidential candidate during his meeting with Patnaik as the focus at present is to secure unity among like-minded parties on having a secular nominee.

“This is not the time to talk about names for the presidential candidate. Now consultations are on to garner support for our exercise to have a secular candidate. Names will figure at the appropriate time,” he said.

Responding to a question, Yechury said he did not come here to discuss any future political alliance and the coming presidential poll was the only agenda during his meeting with Patnaik.

Talks have been held on the issue with different political parties including the Congress, JD-U, NCP, JD-S and the RJD, the CPI-M general secretary said, adding, “I am confident of getting support from all patriotic Indians.”

To a question about the Trinamool Congress, he said, “Our appeal to all the non-NDA parties is to get united and field a secular candidate.”

Yechury said that at present the process of consultation is in progress and when an understanding is arrived at, steps would be taken to zero in on a person.

Once the notification is issued by the Election Commission and poll schedules are announced everybody would get to know the name of the candidate chosen, he said.

Yechury, who was on a two-day visit here, had said after his arrival yesterday that the BJD is a secular party and he was sure Naveen Patnaik and his party will be positive about the issue and support a secular candidate.

However, Patnaik has been maintaining that his party will decide on the presidential election only after seeing the nominations.