West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. (PTI file Photo)
New Delhi: In a bid to build a consensus on the presidential candidate, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee landed in the national capital on Tuesday. The Congress, amongst other parties, including the CPI and the CPI(M), will be attending the meeting.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, along with other leaders, will represent the Congress. DMK’s T.R. Baalu, Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai, RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary and Mehbooba Mufti have confirmed that they will be participating.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will also attend, as will Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president and Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. NCP chief Sharad Pawar will be attending the meeting. The Left parties’ representatives, and not the top leadership, will attend the meeting. It is learnt that TRS will also send a nominee.
According to reports, Pawar has declined to be the opposition’s consensus candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. A delegation of left parties met Pawar in the national capital. After the meeting, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, "I have been told that Pawar will not be the opposition face for the presidential poll, some other names are under consideration."
After landing in Delhi, Banerjee also met the NCP chief. The two leaders discussed presidential elections during their meeting. Insiders claim that this is a preliminary meeting to assess the number of political parties and votes that are with the Opposition. As of now, no specific name has cropped up, but discussions behind closed doors are being held.
A leader from the Opposition party, not wanting to be named, said that any leader of standing will only be ready to give his name if there is a chance of winning. As of now, the odds are favouring the treasury benches. In 2017, the Opposition had fielded former speaker of the Lok Sabha and Congress leader Meira Kumar as the presidential candidate.
President Ram Nath Kovind’s term ends on July 24. Elections will be held on July 18 for the next President of India and counting, if required, will be held three days later.