Presidential Polls: TMC, Congress and 15 Other Opposition Parties to Field Joint Candidate

Key parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress Party stayed away from the meeting.

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New Delhi: The meeting of opposition parties, organised by Mamata Banerjee to build consensus on a presidential candidate, descended into “chaos” after the West Bengal chief minister apparently introduced a last-minute resolution against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to NDTV.

The news channel reported that the other parties were surprised by the resolution and asserted that the only agenda for the meeting was the presidential election. The Trinamool Congress chief, speaking to the media later, stressed that the opposition needs to discuss “the bulldozing taking place in the country”.

However, the 17 parties that attended the meeting at the New Delhi’s Constitution Club did adopt a resolution to field a joint candidate in the forthcoming presidential poll, according to a Times of India report.

Reports suggest that diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah have emerged as potential candidates.

The presidential election is scheduled to take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21.

Apart from the TMC, the parties which attended the meeting were the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK), the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD), the Shiv Sena, the CPI, the CPI(M), the CPI(ML), the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Janta Dal (Secular) [JD(S)], the Republican Socialist Party, the Indian Union Muslim League, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha

Also read: Presidential Poll: As BJP Enjoys an Upper Hand, Opposition in Search of a Strong Candidate

Although the NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s name did the rounds initially as a potential candidate from the opposition camp, the 81-year-old declined the offer, saying that he still has an “active political innings to play”.

“If Sharad Pawar agreed, everybody will give him support. But Pawarji does not agree, we will discuss,” Banerjee told reporters after the meeting.

Confirming the same, Pawar wrote on Twitter:

During the meeting, the parties decided that Banerjee, Pawar and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge will consult with various parties to build consensus. They set June 21 as the deadline for naming a presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Kharge said, “The Congress party 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 Party has no particular candidate in mind. It will sit together with all of you and arrive at a candidate acceptable to all.”

Continuing further, he said, “Such candidate should be someone committed to upholding the Constitution of India, its values, principles and provisions in letter and spirit, someone committed to guaranteeing that all institutions of our democracy function without fear or favour.”

Some key parties absent

Although 22 parties were invited to the meeting by Banerjee, key parties that are in power in five states stayed away.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were absent, apparently due to the Congress’s participation. The ruling parties in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janta Dal and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party were also absent.

As for AAP – which is in power in Delhi and Punjab – it cited Congress’ presence as the reason for its absence from the meeting, and said it will “consider the matter only after the presidential candidate is declared.”

The TRS too explained its absence by citing the same reason, and said that there is “no question of sharing any platform with the Congress.” It also accused Congress of “ganging up with the BJP” in Telangana, especially in the recent by-polls. Further, it said that it had already raised objections over inviting Congress to the meeting.

On the other hand, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi has claimed that his party was not invited.

(With PTI inputs)