With Sharad Pawar out, who will be the Opposition candidate for Presidential polls?
- Sharad Pawar shut down speculation on the top post at a meeting with his party leaders
- West Bengal CM had also proposed his name for President at the Opposition meeting
- Gopalkrishna Gandhi had lost to M Venkaiah Naidu in the 2017 election
Maharashtra leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday declined West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's offer to be the Opposition's Presidential candidate, saying he "still has an active political innings to play".
The 81-year old leader had earlier shut down speculation on the top post at a meeting with his party leaders, who revealed that the former Union Minister was reluctant to fight "a losing battle".
Mamata Banerjee, who had met Sharad Pawar on Tuesday evening, proposed his name for President at the Opposition meeting.
With this, the Opposition is determined to put up a united fight against the BJP in the Presidential polls.
Who will be the Opposition candidate for Presidential polls?
Reports state that some leaders have allegedly reached out to Mahatma Gandhi's grandson and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as a possible choice. In 2017, Gandhi was the consensus Opposition candidate for the post of vice president of India. However, he lost to M Venkaiah Naidu in the election.
Gandhi has asked for time until Wednesday to convey his decision.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does not have the numbers to guarantee a victory. The electoral college consists of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state assemblies and the BJP has a majority only in the Lower House.
The BJP and its allies have as many as 48% votes. It would need the support of parties like the Biju Janata Dal, which has over 31,000 votes, Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSRCP, approximately 43,000 votes, and AIADMK which has 15,000. However, these parties have committed to backing the BJP.
In the 2017 Presidential election too, the NDA did not have the required numbers but it got support from Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), YSR Congress and BJD for Kovind against Congress-led opposition candidate Meira Kumar.