Eighteen opposition parties today chose former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as their joint candidate for vice president, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said. Gopalkrishna Gandhi's name was endorsed by all 18 opposition parties, including the JD(U), which had broken ranks with the opposition to back NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election. "The leaders of 18 opposition parties got together to decide on the vice presidential candidate. All of them spoke in support of Gopal Gandhi and have decided to field him as their joint candidate for the vice presidential election. "We spoke to him, after which he has agreed to be the joint opposition candidate for the post of vice president of India," the Congress president said after the meeting. After leaders of all parties unanimously picked him for the post, Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad, TMC's Derek O'Brien and CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury talked to him over the telephone to seek his consent. "He asked for 10-15 minutes to consider (the offer) after which he was again called on the telephone and he agreed to be the candidate for vice president of India. "He actually expressed his gratitude to all the leaders who met here to decide on his candidature," Sonia Gandhi said. Sources said opposition leaders took only 15 minutes to zero in on Gopal Gandhi's name.
His name was the only one discussed and was unanimously supported. Pointing out that Gopal Gandhi was the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and India's last governor general C Rajagopalachari, Yechury said, "There can be no better candidate than Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the post of vice president of India. We hope he will be elected unanimously." TMC's O'Brien was the first to propose Gopal Gandhi's name and was followed by BSP's Satish Misra, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and then all others. "He wanted to ensure that all parties have endorsed him name and he was graceful to have accepted our request," O'Brien said. He added that there was broad agreement beforehand and there was good coordination between the opposition parties. The nomination papers have been signed by the leaders, including JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav, but will be filed later, O'Brien said. The vice presidential election will take place on August 5 and votes will be counted the same evening. During the meeting, the opposition parties also passed a resolution condemning the attack on Amarnath pilgrims and termed it an attack on humanity and on India's plurality and diversity. The parties asked the government to introspect on its failure to prevent the "cowardly and ghastly" terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims despite advance intelligence inputs. The floor strategy for the upcoming Parliament session starting July 17 came up for discussion. It was decided to raise issues like the plight of farmers and their suicides, the fallout of GST and demonetisation, political sources said. The parties also discussed the recent raids on RJD's Lalu Prasad as well as the Congress' National Herald case and cases against other opposition leaders.
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