Sharad Pawar For President? Opposition Build-Up Hints At Plan

The Congress has reportedly conveyed its support to Sharad Pawar for President. File

New Delhi:

Ahead of the presidential polls, a series of meetings among opposition parties suggest that the search for a consensus candidate is intensifying. With these meetings pivoting around former Union Minister Sharad Pawar, there is speculation that he could emerge as the opposition’s candidate for the election to India’s top post in July.

The Congress has reportedly conveyed its support to Sharad Pawar for President. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge met with Sharad Pawar last Thursday, with a message from party chief Sonia Gandhi. The two met in Mumbai.

The NCP leader has not responded to that suggestion, say sources.

On Sunday, Mr Pawar received a call from Sanjay Singh, a leader of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Mr Kharge also spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

The Congress leader also spoke on the phone with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has called for an opposition meeting at the Constitution Club in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss a joint strategy for the presidential election.

Elections will be held on July 18 for the next President of India and counting, if needed, will be held three days later. President Ramnath Kovind’s term ends on July 24.

Mr Pawar, one of India’s seniormost politicians, has been credited with making and breaking many alliances and coalition governments.

He crafted Maharashtra’s ruling coalition, bringing together ideologically opposed parties Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress to thwart the BJP.

The BJP has authorized its party chief JP Nadda and Union Minister Rajnath Singh to hold discussions with parties across the spectrum and steer them towards a consensus.

In 2017, the BJP had nominated Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu for the outreach. Later, Venkaiah Naidu was named the NDA’s vice presidential candidate.

If there is no consensus, the BJP will prepare for an election.

Many names have been speculated upon, but none have been confirmed by the BJP.

The presidential polls take place based on an electoral college comprising the votes of MLAs and MPs. Some 4,809 electors – both MPs and MLAs – will vote to elect a new president.

The vote value of each MLA depends on the population of a state and the number of assembly seats.

The total strength of the electoral college is 10,86,431. Any candidate who crosses 50 per cent votes, wins.

The BJP and its allies are 13,000 votes short of the majority mark.

In 2017, the ruling coalition received the support of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) of K Chandrashekhar Rao, the YSR Congress of Jagan Reddy and the BJD of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

This time round, Chandrashekhar Rao, or KCR, is leading efforts to consolidate opposition forces to take on the BJP jointly.

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