Opposition leaders have adopted a resolution to field a common candidate in the forthcoming Presidential election. The candidate, will, however, be finalised in the next round of meetings.
The decision was taken in the meeting convened by Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Delhi today. The meeting also made public that Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was not keen on becoming a presidential candidate saying he still wants to be ‘active’ in politics.
“Several parties were here today. We have decided we will choose only one consensus candidate. Everybody will give this candidate our support. We will consult with others. This is a good beginning. We sat together after several months, and we will do it again,” Banerjee said after the meeting.
The meeting was convened by Banerjee with the aim to forge a consensus on fielding a joint candidate for the Presidential polls scheduled next month. The Trinamool Congress chief had recently written to as many as 22 leaders of Opposition parties, including Congress’ interim president Sonia Gandhi, inviting them to be part of the platform against ‘divisive’ forces.
“In today's Opposition meeting, all parties proposed the name of Sharad Pawar for the Presidential poll, but he said he cannot take this up now due to his health. All parties requested him to reconsider his decision,” Binoy Viswam of the CPI said.
Sources said former West Bengal Governor and Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, has been approached by some leaders of the Left parties to be a joint Opposition candidate. Gandhi, who lost the 2017 vice-presidential election, is said to have sought more time to decide.
It is being reported that National Conference President and Lok Sabha leader Dr Farooq Abdhullah's name was also discussed during the meeting.
As many as 17 parties, including the Congress, attended the meeting. These include the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Lok Dal, CPM, CPI, to name a few. Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, and Randeep Surjewala are expected to represent the Congress party in the meeting to be held in Delhi.
Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, however, decided to skip the meeting. Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also did not attend today's meeting. The party will take a call only after the candidate is finalised, according to the sources.
The election for the next President of India will be held on July 18, the Election Commission said on June 9. The counting will take place on July 21. The term of the current President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24 and an election for the next president has to be held before that day.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not have the numbers to get the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate as the next President of India. So, the role of parties like Biju Janata Dal (BJD ), and YSRCP will be key. BJD has 12 members in the Lok Sabha, nine in the Rajya Sabha, and 114 in the 147-member state assembly. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP has 22 Lok Sabha seats, nine in the Rajya Sabha, and 151 out of 175 in the state assembly.