Opposition decide to field joint candidate

Opposition decide to field joint candidate
New Delhi, June 15: Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge during the meeting of opposition parties ahead of Presidential poll, at Constitution Club of India, in Delhi on Wednesday.ANI

New Delhi: The opposition parties on Wednesday decided to field a joint candidate in the Presidential polls next month.

A meeting of opposition leaders, called by Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was held here on building consensus on zeroing in on a joint opposition candidate.

In the meeting, a resolution was passed to field a common candidate in the next Presidential poll.

"In the forthcoming Presidential election which is being held on the 75th anniversary of India's independence, we have decided to field a common candidate who can truly serve as custodian of the Constitution and stop the Modi government from doing further damage to Indian democracy and India's social fabric," it said.

An opposition leader present in the meeting said that the Trinamool supremo proposed the name of NCP chief Pawar and everyone agreed.

"But Pawar refused and said he will be active in politics till his death."

Banerjee also suggested names of Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi for opposition nominee for Presidential polls but no discussion was held on the names. It is learnt that opposition leaders will meet again on June 21 to finalise the candidate.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said: "Congress will play a constructive role in ensuring that the parties assembled here this afternoon arrive at a consensus candidate in the next few days. Let us be proactive and not be reactive. The Congress has no particular candidate in mind. It will sit together with all of you and arrive at a candidate acceptable to all.""But Pawar refused and said he will be active in politics till his death."

Banerjee also suggested names of Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi for opposition nominee for Presidential polls but no discussion was held on the names. It is learnt that opposition leaders will meet again on June 21 to finalise the candidate.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said: "Congress will play a constructive role in ensuring that the parties assembled here this afternoon arrive at a consensus candidate in the next few days. Let us be proactive and not be reactive. The Congress has no particular candidate in mind. It will sit together with all of you and arrive at a candidate acceptable to all."

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, NCP chief Pawar, Congress' Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, and Randeep Singh Surjewala, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's T.R. Balu, Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, RJD's Manoj Jha and others attended the meeting.

The presidential poll will be held on July 18 and counting of votes will take place on July 21.

After Pawar, 81, declined the offer, Banerjee later suggested the names of NC leader Farooq Abdullah, a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, and Gopalkrishna Gandhi as a possible opposition candidate, sources said.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the 77-year-old grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, was the consensus opposition candidate for the post of Vice President of India in 2017 but had lost to M Venkaiah Naidu in the election.

Asked about his name doing the rounds as a possible choice as the Opposition's candidate, Gandhi told PTI, "It is too premature to comment on it."

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