Presidential poll: No contest if NDA persuades Pranab, concludes Opposition

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After initial rounds of discussions on the presidential poll, Opposition leaders have concluded that they will be forced to back off from the resolve to field a joint Opposition candidate only if the government 'persuades' incumbent Pranab Mukherjee for a second term at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, many leaders involved in the deliberations have said.

Incidentally, media reports have said that a bungalow "is being readied as retirement House" for Mukherjee, whose current term ends in July, leading to interpretation that Mukherjee may not be interested in another term. So far, only Rajendra Prasad had a second term as President However, Opposition leaders concluded it will be 'improper' to 'speculate' or indulge in 'pressuring probes' as it involves the highest constitutional office. For the same reason, the Opposition has decided not to take any initiative on Mukherjee as it doesn't want to 'drag' him into the 'political lane' or provide opportunity to anyone to give it a 'partisan' colour.

The Opposition camps feel Mukherjee's tenure is rated high widely, especially in upholding the letter and spirit of the Constitution and ensuring his presidency was not marred by controversies, while maintaining a good working relationship with the government and Opposition — even though his decisions or statements may not have suited respective political positioning of one side or other at times.

Hence, if the government chooses to persuade him for another term, it will leave the Opposition with no ground to force a contest, as the Opposition's preparation is on the premise that the ruling side will field someone identified with the BJP-RSS, thereby giving the Opposition an opening for forcing a contest on ideological grounds by rallying larger opposition camps.

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