The Trinamool Congress is reportedly scouting for a political figure that can also reach out to opposition parties that have never been a part of the INC-led UPA and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar fits the description. He could emerge as a consensus candidate for the Presidential polls if other opposition parties manage to convince him, a source familiar with the developments said on Monday.
A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress chief, invited opposition leaders for a meeting in Delhi to formulate a joint strategy for the Presidential polls, on Sunday, Aam Admi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh called on Sharad Pawar in Mumbai.
Hours after the Election Commission announced the presidential poll notification, INC interim president Sonia Gandhi, apart from other leaders such as Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray etc, had called Sharad Pawar too.
The Trinamool Congress is said to be pushing for a political person who can also reach out to opposition parties that have never been a part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Sharad Pawar fits the description as he is known to share cordial relations with the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who is also the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief, as well as Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “It’s not about winning or losing but putting up a fight for the principles we stand for. Parties like AAP or TRS won’t support a Congress candidate. But if Sharad Pawar ji agrees, it’s game on,” said an opposition leader on the condition of anonymity.
The opposition parties are united in their desire for putting up a strong fight, but they seem divided on who should take the lead.
After the Trinamool Congress chief invited other opposition leaders to the 15 June meeting, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury called the move ‘unilateral’.
INC communication chief Randeep Singh Surjewala too issued a carefully crafted statement in which he said the Congress, along with others, can take the process forward. “The Congress Party (sic) is of the opinion that the Nation needs a person as President, who can protect the Constitution, our institutions and citizenry from the ongoing onslaught by the ruling party. This is the need of the hour. While the Congress Party has not suggested a particular name, we owe it to our people to elect a President, who can apply a healing touch to its fractured social fabric and defend our Constitution,” Randeep Singh Surjewala had said in the statement.
Interestingly, while the BJP-led NDA will surely have its own presidential candidate, the dispensation that awarded Sharad Pawar with a Padma Vibhushan, does not appear averse to him either.