NEW DELHI: Kashmir and the Presidential elections have together seen a churning in the Opposition parties with Janata Dal(U) leader Sharad Yadav playing a major role in bringing together the parties on this. He recently met with Congress President Sonia Gandhi as well as other senior Opposition leaders with the progress being described by him as “good.”

Sharad Yadav told The Citizen that he had had a good discussion with Sonia Gandhi and she has decided to bring in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to head a panel on Kashmir. The effort is towards holding a big Delhi meeting of political and other representatives on burning issues, with Kashmir as a major plank. Sukma and the securty charged developments in Chhatisgarh is also an issue of concern that the larger meeting being discussed currently, will address.

Manmohan Singh has had a meeting with former Peoples Democratic party leader and now Congress member Tariq Hameed Karra who left the party he had helped found because of the alliance with the BJP and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s refusal to part ways.

The panel will also be discussing the situation in Kashmir with former minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha as well as members of the delegation he recently led to Kashmir. A report prepared by the team has emphasised the need for a political dialogue aimed at resolving the current crisis. Sinha has met several Opposition leaders in this regard.

Sharad Yadav who has taken a personal interest in the issue, and has been speaking to Opposition leader said, “what does the BJP want, to govern just the mountains and the territory of Kashmir without the people.” He said that all he had spoken to were agreed about the need to resolve the issue urgently before the situation went completely out of control.

The Opposition parties have all agreed to field a common Presidential candidate against the BJP/RSS nominee for the post. Sources said that all Opposition parties, that include even arch rivals like the BSP and the Samajwadi party, the Trinamool Congress and the Left, have been positive in their response to this move again initiated by the Janata Dal (United). The leaders have also approached the Telegu Desam, the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti, and the AIADMK that have still to indicate their preference, but are expected to remain with the BJP on this issue. The DMK will be with the Opposition.

There is a search on for a consensus candidate, with the political preference being for a well known public intellectual with integrity and stature. A few names are in the reckoning, but as the sources said, it is too premature to name any one person until there is a broader agreement. Unity could work for the Opposition in these Presidential elections, with the BJP already having secured the assurance of its allies for these polls. Although here too there is a list of names, the final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in consultation with the RSS and as the sources said, “can be a complete dark horse.