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Left may not be averse to Ansari as Prez nominee

New Delhi: Left parties, which have been advocating "maximum consensus" to elect a new President, may not be averse to supporting a candidate like Vice President Hamid Ansari if Congress comes up with his name.

The Left parties were holding informal discussions with some parties and favoured evolving a consensus on the name of a Presidential nominee, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here today.

The Left parties, which would initiate deliberations among themselves on the presidential election on Friday, are clear that they would not support former President A P J Abdul Kalam whom they had opposed earlier too.

Confirming the meeting, CPI National Secretary D Raja said the four parties would meet on May four and hold "preliminary consultations" on the matter. "This will be the first occasion when we meet to discuss this issue," he said.

The Left parties continue to oppose Kalam as his name has been mooted by the BJP. The parties had put up a leading light of Subhash Chandra Bose`s Indian National Army, Capt Lakshmi Sehgal, against Kalam during the 2002 Presidential poll.

In fact, Ansari was the choice of Left parties before he was elected as Vice President during UPA-I when the government was dependent on their outside support.

Observing that the Congress had not yet firmly spelt out the name of a presidential candidate, Left sources said they had not been approached by the Congress. While refusing to be drawn into specific names, the CPI-M has been saying it would support a candidate enjoying "maximum consensus" in the Presidential elections.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury had earlier said the criteria for electing the President should not be on the basis of whether he or she was a political or non-political person, but on the basis of one who enjoys the maximum consensus. But for this, the process of consultation has to be initiated by the Congress and "more delay will lead to all sorts of speculation".

Asked whether Left parties would be agreeable to names like Pranab Mukherjee or Hamid Ansari, the CPI(M) leader had then said: "Why should someone object or not object to anyone. The ruling party, by delaying discussions, is allowing a lot of speculation. This is not at all healthy".

Meanwhile, CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat took exception to BJP leader Sushma Swaraj`s reported remarks that Ansari lacked the stature for the Presidential post. "It is inappropriate to talk about the stature of the Vice President," Brinda Karat said.

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