Opposition may choose presidential candidate tomorrow

At least 17 opposition parties will meet on Tuesday in what is likely to be a decisive round of discussions to unanimously choose their candidate for next month’s presidential election, people familiar with the matter said.

With Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar and J&K National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah pulling themselves out of the race last week, all eyes are now on Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the election. as the unanimous candidate.

While voting will be held on July 18, the counting of votes will take place on July 21.

According to two senior Congress and Left leaders, internal discussions are in full swing within the opposition parties to secure a consensus candidate ahead of the meeting at Parliament House on Tuesday.

A top opposition leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Talks are yet to be held with only two-three parties.”

In the last meeting held on June 15, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had proposed two names – Gandhi and Abdullah – as the opposition’s candidate after Pawar refused to contest the election “to serve the common man”. To continue” “

A few days later, Abdullah too declined to contest the election, saying, “I believe that Jammu and Kashmir is passing through a turning point and my efforts to help navigate these uncertain times. Efforts are needed.”

A section of the opposition is in touch with Gandhi and is trying to chase him to contest this election, as the people cited above said.

“I was asked whether I would consider contesting if there is a consensus on my name and I said I need time to think about it,” Gandhi said last week.

In 2017, Gandhi contested the Vice Presidential election against Venkaiah Naidu, but failed to win. This time, his candidature has the support of several parties including the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its arch-rival Left parties.

With no other proposal for active consideration, senior opposition leaders are waiting for Gandhi’s response on contesting the elections, the people cited above said.

Another top opposition leader said that while Banerjee had suggested Gandhi as a possible candidate during the June 15 meeting, the former diplomat’s name had cropped up long ago during internal discussions with opposition leaders.

“For the past one month, we have consulted (Congress leaders) Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and some other leaders about the possibility of fielding Gopal Krishna Gandhi as the opposition candidate,” said another leader on condition of anonymity. .

A senior Congress leader said that the Congress has not proposed any name, but it will wholeheartedly support Gandhi’s candidature.

Pointing to the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, another Congress leader quipped, “We can wait for the announcement of our candidate in the June 21 meeting without the ruling party announcing the candidate.” The meeting said that the opposition parties “need to be proactive and not reactive”.

Meanwhile, Banerjee is unlikely to attend the upcoming meeting. His nephew, Abhishek Banerjee and some other party MPs are expected to represent the TMC at the meeting.

Party functionaries said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who did not attend the last meeting called by Banerjee, would attend the June 21 discussion.