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NATION                                                                   JUNE 24, 2022  |    The Indian Eye                     8

          Pawar, Abdullah or Gopal Gandhi? Oppn parties

               trying to build consensus on next President

           Mamata Banerjee’s decision to convene a meeting of opposition parties on presidential polls is being seen as a move to
                        emerge as an anchor of the larger grouping opposed to the BJP for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls

        OUR BUREAU                                                                                            the constitution and stop Modi gov-
                                                                                                              ernment from doing further damage
        New Delhi/Kolkata
                                                                                                              to Indian democracy and India’s so-
              s part of the BJP’s reach out                                                                   cial fabric”.
              to various parties in the NDA                                                                       Congress leader Mallikarjun
        Aas also in opposition for the                                                                        Kharge, who attended the meeting
        presidential poll, Defense Minister                                                                   of opposition parties on presidential
        Rajnath Singh on Wednesday spoke                                                                      polls on Wednesday, made an appar-
        to  Janta  Dal-United  leader  and  Bi-                                                               ently cryptic remark saying he was in
        har Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. As                                                                   the process of talking to like-minded
        per the sources, the Defense Minister                                                                 parties to field a common candidate
        who is also the Deputy Leader of BJP                                                                  and Trinamool Congress Mamata
        in Lok Sabha, spoke to Nitish Kumar                                                                   Banerjee convened the meeting.
        this morning for building a consensus                                                                     Mamata  Banerjee’s  decision  to
        on the candidate for the upcoming                                                                     convene a meeting of opposition par-
        presidential elections.                                                                               ties on presidential polls is also being
            Sources said it was conveyed to                                                                   seen as a move to emerge as an an-
        Nitish Kumar that an attempt is be-                                                                   chor of the larger grouping opposed
        ing made to put up a consensus can-  Mamata Banerjee with Sharad Pawar and Mallikarjun Kharge at the Constitution Club of India,   to the BJP for the 2024 Lok Sabha
        didate. It is also being reported that         in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo/ Ishant Kumar)   polls.
        Kumar has assured that his party will                                                                     After Congress president Sonia
        be  supporting  the  candidature  as                                                                  Gandhi asked him to hold talks with
        proposed by the BJP-led NDA.                                                                          opposition parties earlier this month
            The  discussion over the pres-                                                                    on  fielding  a  common  candidate  in
        idential election was initiated last                                                                  presidential polls, Kharge had met
        month when Union Minister Dhar-                                                                       NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
        mendra  Pradhan  had  visited  Bihar                                                                      In his remarks at the meeting of
        and met Kumar.                                                                                        opposition parties on Wednesday,
            The Bihar Chief Minister had                                                                      Kharge  said  after  the  notification
        earlier  scotched  speculation  about                                                                 for  the  Presidential  elections  was
        the  possibility  of  his  being  a  candi-                                                           released, Sonia Gandhi had asked
        date and had said that he was not in                                                                  him  to speak to leaders  of various
        the presidential race. BJP and JD-U                                                                   parties “opposed to the divisive and
        had together won the last assembly                                                                    destructive  policies  of  the  RSS/BJP
        polls in Bihar. Apart from Nitish Ku-                                                                 to  explore  the  possibility  of  a  joint
        mar, Union Minister Rajnath Singh                                                                     candidate”.
        has  already  spoken  to  Naveen  Pat-                                                                    “I had been in touch with a num-
        naik of Biju Janta Dal and also to the                                                                ber of you. Now Mamataji has con-
        YSRC leadership.                                                                                      vened this meeting,” he said.
            Meanwhile,   after  attending  Mamata Banerjee welcomes Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Mallikarjun Kharge on their   He said the consensus candidate
        the  meeting  called  by  Trinamool                                                                   “should  be  someone  committed  to
        Congress leader and West Bengal   arrival to attend the Opposition leaders’ meeting ahead of the Presidential poll (ANI Photo)  upholding the Constitution of In-
        Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,                                                                       dia, its values, principles and provi-
        Jharkhand  Lok  Sabha  MP  Vijay   mo  Sharad  Pawar  would  prepare  a   ing held in Delhi. However, I like to   sions in letter and spirit, someone
        Hansdak  on  Wednesday  confirmed   blueprint  for  the  second  meeting   state that I have humbly declined the   committed to guaranteeing that all
        that Banerjee mentioned two more   which would follow soon.         proposal of my candidature.”      institutions of our democracy func-
        names besides Sharad Pawar for the    But  Nationalist  Congress  Par-  The meeting had adopted a res-  tion without fear or favor, someone
        presidential elections. “Mamata Ba-  ty  (NCP)  chief  Sharad  Pawar  on   olution to field a common candidate   committed to protecting the rights
        nerjee mentioned two more names   Wednesday declined the Opposition   in the election slated for July 18. The   of all our citizens and preserving the
        besides Sharad Pawar, which include   leaders’ proposal to become the can-  meeting  was  attended  by  leaders   secular fabric of our diverse society,
        the names of Farooq Abdullah and   didate  for  election  of  President  of   from  17  opposition  parties.  It  coin-  someone committed to speaking out
        Gopalkrishna  Gandhi.  However,   India. Taking to Twitter, he wrote,   cided with the date of notification for   boldly against the forces of prejudice,
        on these two names, no other party   “I sincerely appreciate the leaders of   the presidential polls.  hatred, bigotry and polarization and
        leader expressed an opinion in this   opposition parties for suggesting my   Sudheendra Kulkarni said oppo-  someone committed to being a pow-
        meeting,” said MP Vijay Hansdak.   name as a candidate for the election   sition parties are keen on a candidate   erful force for furthering social jus-
            He highlighted that NCP supre-  of the President of India, at the meet-  “who can truly serve as custodian of   tice and empowerment”.

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