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Congress criteria for Presidential candidate

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Special Correspondent

`Should be highly experienced and with secular credentials’

Karunanidhi meets other constituents of UPA It is for the party to decide, says Arjun Singh

NEW DELHI: Even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minster M. Karunanidhi began discussions on the Presidential elections, the Congress on Monday outlined its criteria that the person "should be highly experienced and with secular credentials".

"The person [Presidential candidate] should be highly experienced, of secular credentials," party spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi said at a regular briefing.

Asked whether political experience was a necessity he said "it goes without saying" but added "I will not rule out others."

This was the first time that the Congress officially outlined its parameters for the candidate amid a number of names that were doing the rounds.

Mr. Chaturvedi said the party was still in the process of holding consultations with allies and supporting parties.

As for the suggestion from the opposition National Democratic Alliance on the consensus approach, the Congress sought to remind the NDA that it "must look into its own conduct. They preach what they don’t practice. Did they go for consensus during their time or call us for consultations. Still, we are in the process of consulting colleagues and supporting parties and the question of consensus comes after we formulate our opinion," Mr. Chaturvedi said.

With the arrival Mr. Karunanidhi, the process of consultations both within the UPA and supporting parties gathered pace. He met the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Parkash Karat and the CPI delegation consisting of A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja separately. Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar also met the DMK leader.

On his part, Mr. Karat said he had briefed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader of the criteria finalised by the four Left parties for the Presidential candidate.

He said the issue was discussed in this context and not specifically on names.

Mr. Karunanidhi also called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi and discussed the Presidential elections.

The DMK leader suggested he would return early next week for further discussions on the issue. "It was a good meeting, we discussed the Presidential election though no names were discussed. We were on the same wavelength that the person selected should be capable of winning," Mr. Bardhan told The Hindu .

It appears that discussion on selecting the UPA candidate would continue and lis ikely to conclude before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s departure for the G-8 Summit on June 6.

The Congress president Sonia Gandhi too is scheduled for an overseas visit.

Meanwhile, it is understood that there was a strong view among some constituents of the United Progressive Alliance that in case a Congressperson becomes the candidate for the Presidential election, a non-Congress person should be the nominee for the Vice-Presidential polls.

PTI reports from Delhi:

Refuting suggestions that he was in the race for the post of President, HRD Minister Arjun Singh said such issues were normally decided by the Congress high command.

"I am not in any race. It is for the party to decide," he said when asked to comment on reports suggesting his name as one of the probable nominees for the Presidential polls.

He was talking to reporters after meeting Mr. Karunanidhi.

See online : The Hindu

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