Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. (Photo: Twitter/@TelanganaCMO)
Hyderabad: The TRS is most likely to support the joint Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha in the Presidential election scheduled for July 18.
Although an official statement is awaited, it is understood that TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has decided to support Sinha after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar called him on Tuesday and requested his support for Sinha, who was nominated unanimously by non-NDA parties.
According to TRS sources, Pawar called Rao shortly after a consensus was achieved among 20 non-NDA parties on Sinha's candidacy. Both the leaders spoke for about 10 minutes and discussed giving a tough fight to the BJP-led NDA candidate, who was yet to be announced at that time.
Rao reportedly assured Pawar that the TRS would back Sinha. TRS, on the other hand, has made no official statement on the issue. A TRS MP told this newspaper, "Sharad Pawar spoke to CM over phone and sought his support. He explained the reasons for choosing Sinha as joint opposition candidate. The CM was convinced and assured his support."
Last week, Rao skipped a non-NDA parties meeting in New Delhi held by Trinamul Congress president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to discuss fielding a joint candidate, claiming he wouldn't share a stage with the Congress.
This triggered speculation that the TRS would abstain from the Presidential poll voting as it cannot support either the BJP-led NDA candidate or an Opposition candidate backed by the Congress. TRS claimed that it would maintain equi-distance from both BJP and Congress.
Sinha has no Congress background and also a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sinha quit the BJP in April 2018, alleging that democracy was in danger and vowed to unite non-NDA parties against Modi.
Sources said Pawar reminded Rao that since he was also fighting against BJP and Modi, it would be apt for the TRS to support Sinha.
According to party insiders, Rao met with senior leaders at Pragathi Bhavan on Tuesday to discuss the party's presidential election strategy. The meeting discussed the possibility at that time of the BJP fielding Vice-President M.Venkaiah Naidu, as well as what the TRS' position should be if the request to support a "Telugu bidda" (son of Telugu states) cames up. Rao ruled out supporting the BJP under any circumstances, and the NDA later chose Draupadi Murmu.