Major Opposition parties will meet in the capital on Thursday amid indications that former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar
could be their challenger against National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
The move comes even as the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), or the JD(U), has decided to back Kovind's candidature.
Like Kovind, Meira Kumar
belongs to the Dalit community. She was the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha and also has been a Union minister.
met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday. Though there was no official word about the meeting, it is widely believed that Meira Kumar
could be the Opposition's choice against Kovind.
Ahead of the meeting, Communist Party of India leader D Raja said that JD(U) was one of the opposition parties which had come together to field a common candidate in the presidential polls and its decision to part ways would not have any bearing on the stance of other parties.
"It is one party. We are 17 parties who came together on the issue. (Bihar Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar
has taken such a position, it is for him. It does not mean all others follow Nitish Kumar," Raja told IANS.
Gandhi had taken the initiative to talk to Opposition parties to evolve a consensus candidate in the presidential election. Nitish Kumar
was among the leaders who met her and JD(U) leaders took part in all meetings of the grouping.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav was also a member of the sub-committee formed by Opposition parties to decide the presidential candidate.
The Left parties are keen to put up a candidate against Kovind in what they call an "ideological battle".
Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Wednesday that there would be a "strong candidate" against Kovind.
"The question is of a political battle -- whether the basics of our Constitution would be protected or RSS
(Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) would convert the country into a Hindu Rashtra (nation)," Yechury said.
It remains to be seen if the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has also said that it cannot oppose a Dalit candidate unless the Opposition has a more popular Dalit nominee, attends the Opposition meeting.
For the record, the Congress said that whether they would be putting up a candidate against Kovind would be known only after Thursday's meeting.
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, whose father Mulayam Singh Yadav is toeing a different line, said that his party would go with the Opposition-led by Congress.
"There should be no talk about whether a Dalit should be there (be a President)... caste or religion. Whoever would be the protector of the Constitution should be above caste and religion," he said, adding that his party would attend the Opposition's meeting on Thursday.
The other name doing the rounds as a possible Opposition candidate is of former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who also belongs to the Dalit community.