CPI-M favours consensus Prez candidate: Yechury

Hyderabad: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today favoured a consensus candidate as the next President of India. "The President is the custodian of Indian Constitution, custodian of the Indian Republic. He has to be a person on whom there is the largest amount of confidence among the elected representatives, who represent the people, and therefore exercise the sovereignity of the people, which is the Constitution`s backbone. That is why, there should a consensus", CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

He said only if consensus fails, there should be a contest, like it had happened when the Left had put up Lakshmi Saigal against A P J Abdul Kalam in 2002. On reports that Congress was considering the names of Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Union Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the President`s post, the CPI(M) leader pointed out that Left parties had supported Ansari for vice-presidentship last time. "Last time, when the name of Pranab Mukherjee was floated (for President), we did not say we are going to oppose it".

"But there is no decision as of now by Left parties. Unless we know something concrete that they are thinking on whom a consensus can be built, how can we say?" Yechury added. "let us first hear if they are the candidates. We are only knowing through the media now. We don`t know whether they are the candidates," he added. On the possible candidature of former President Kalam, he said all speculation in that regard was "unfortunate and unnecessary".

"There are n-number of people of the calibre whom you could very naturally choose for that position. Why drag in all these names into speculation? First let them start a process of consultation and on that basis try and build a consensus," Yechury said. He, however, noted that the process (of building a consensus) has not yet begun. "Nobody has been talking to the others. I don`t know if UPA or Congress party is talking to anybody. So, no decision can be taken until something concrete comes. It will have to materialise in the next week or so", the Marxist leader said.

On the debate whether the next President should be a political or apolitical person, Yechury said "we had very political people as Presidents. Giani Jail Singh. We had very apolitical people as Presidents like Abdul Kalam. That is not the issue. Yechury was in Hyderabad to take part in the birth centenary celebrations of CPI(M) founder-secretary and former MP Putchalapalli Sundarayya and the inauguration of Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, a library and research centre named after the Communist stalwart.