Presidential polls: Opposition hunts for candidate as Pawar declines offer
In a meeting of the opposition parties convened by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to decide on a joint candidate for the president's election, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar on Wednesday declined the proposal to run for the top post. As many as 17 opposition parties, including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), attended the meeting.
- With Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under the President's rule as well as three other states—Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu—controlled by the opposition parties, the presidential elections would be a tough contest for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) candidate.
- The opposition plans to give a tough fight by putting up joint candidates for both the presidential and the vice-presidential elections.
Banerjee floated the names of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference president and MP Farooq Abdullah and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi after the veteran NCP leader declined the offer. A second meeting of the opposition parties will be convened by Pawar next week to build consensus on fielding a joint candidate against the BJP-led NDA, according to PTI sources.
I sincerely appreciate the leaders of opposition parties for suggesting my name as a candidate for the election of the President of India, at the meeting held in Delhi. However I like to state that I have humbly declined the proposal of my candidature. pic.twitter.com/j9lTFFJMUX— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) June 15, 2022
The Congress, Shiv Sena, SP, Rashtriya Janata Dal, National Conference, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, NCP, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Lok Dal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, among others, attended the meeting. However, four major regional parties, including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), and Shiromani Akali Dal gave it a miss.
Since Banerjee had also invited the Congress to the meeting, the TRS and SAD gave it a miss as they didn't want to share a platform with the Sonia Gandhi-led party. Meanwhile, the AAP said it would consider "the issue only after the candidate for the upcoming presidential election is declared." But Akhilesh Yadav's SP said it would support the candidate decided by Banerjee.
After the meeting, Banerjee said that all parties, barring one or two, sent their representatives to the meeting. Banerjee said that Pawar had the consensus of all the parties. However, since he said no, they would arrive at a consensus for another candidate soon. She alleged that the country's institutions were being "bulldozed" and they needed "to sit together" and take a step.
The President of India is chosen by an electoral college comprising elected members of both Houses of Parliament, representatives of state legislatures, and the union territories of Delhi and Puducherry. According to the current estimates, the electoral college consists of 776 Members of Parliament (543 Lok Sabha MPs and 233 Rajya Sabha MPs) and 4,809 members of the state legislative assemblies.