Sharad Pawar on Wednesday refused an offer to run for President, telling an opposition meeting that he “still has an active political innings to play”. But the meeting turned chaotic over a last-minute resolution against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- The meeting, which was clouded by the absence of five key parties, saw “chaos” over the resolution that Mamata Banerjee was accused of springing on the parties without notice, sources say. Many asserted that the only agenda for the meeting was the presidential election.
- Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who called the meeting, told reporters later that the opposition needed to sit together to discuss “the bulldozing taking place in the country.”
- Mamata Banerjee had invited 22 parties but 16 attended the meeting. They decided on a 21 June deadline for naming a presidential candidate versus the nominee of the BJP and its allies. Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge will consult with various parties to build consensus on a name.
- After Sharad Pawar, 81, turned down Mamata Banerjee’s offer to be the opposition’s presidential candidate, no one had any other suggestion. At the end of the meeting, she took the names of Gopal Gandhi and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah.
- In a tweet, Sharad Pawar said, “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.”
- Sharad Pawar had the support of many parties, including Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Left, the Congress and the Shiv Sena. “If Sharad Pawar agreed, everybody will give him support. But Pawarji does not agree, we will discuss,” Ms Banerjee told reporters.
- Later in the evening, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien tweeted, “17 Opposition parties to field JOINT CANDIDATE for Presidential poll. (Can that number can go up to 20) That’s a good day in the office”.
- The presidential elections will take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21. June 29 is the last date for nominations.
- While Mamata Banerjee’s rivals Congress and Left attended the meeting, leaders like Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao – who had bonded with his Bengal counterpart over their common goal of defeating the BJP – decided to boycott it.
- The Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also opted out, protesting the Congress’ presence. AAP said it will “consider the matter only after the Presidential candidate is declared”. The TRS said there was “no question of sharing any platform with the Congress.”