Presidential Poll: Why Congress is pushing for joint opposition candidate?

New Delhi, June 14:  Ahead of the opposition meet in the national capital on Presidential election convened by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Baneejee on Wednesday, the Congress has sounded its allies that the party is in favour of a joint opposition candidate.

Going by numbers, the UPA is not in a position to ensure victory for its candidate, and the party knows that fielding a joint opposition candidate can disturb NDA’s equations.

The Congress has conveyed its support to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, and to all its allies wherever the party is in power.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had met Sharad Pawar in Mumbai last Thursday with a message from party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress knows that many regional parties are averse to supporting a Congress candidate, but Pawar has the capability of reaching out to these regional parties as he shares good equation with them.

Articulating the party’s stand on the issue, Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “The country needs a President who can protect the Constitution, our institutions and the citizens from the ongoing onslaught by the ruling party.”

The Congress will support if Sharad Pawar throws his hat into the ring for the President’s post, while Mamata Banerjee has called a meeting of the opposition parties in Delhi on Wednesday.

On the same day, Pawar will meet the leaders of the like-minded parties though the NCP chief still maintains that he is not in the race for the President’s post.

Congress emissary Kharge has spoken to Tamil Nadu CM M.K. Stalin and his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackarey on the issue and sources said that they are in favour of fielding a joint opposition candidate.

Pawar, a stalwart in the opposition ranks, can upset the equation of the ruling party which is hoping to get support of other smaller parties.

As per data, the ruling coalition is falling short by a few thousand votes and if the entire opposition makes a joint effort, the fight could be very close where every single vote will matter.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi too had reached out to the NCP chief, Mamata Banerjee and other opposition leaders over the upcoming Presidential election, a recent statement issued by the Congress said.

“As per her discussions with the opposition leaders, she deputed Mallikarjun Kharge to co-ordinate with the other leaders in view of her ill health owing to Covid-19,” the statement said.

The statement said that the Congress is of the opinion that the country needs a President who can protect the Constitution, the democratic institutions and the citizens from the ongoing onslaught by the ruling BJP.

While the party has not suggested any particular name for the Presidential poll, the statement said the party owes it to the people to elect a President who can apply a ‘healing touch’ to India’s ‘fractured social fabric’.

“The time is ripe to rise above our differences for the sake of our nation and its people. Discussions and deliberations have to be open-minded. We believe the Congress along with the other parties should be taking this discussion forward,” the statement said.

The BJP, on the other hand, has authorised its national President J.P. Nadda and Union Minister Rajnath Singh to hold discussions with the different political parties to arrive at a consensus.


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