Friday 1 July 2022
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Mamata Banerjee tried non-Congress opposition presidential candidate; INC to send representatives to meeting nevertheless

Senior INC politicians Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Singh Surjewala will represent their party at the meeting convened by Mamata Banerjee

While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other opposition leaders and chief ministers wanted to hoist a rival of the who has not been a part of the INC, which was why NCP head Sharad Pawar emerged as a favourite candidate, the remnant of India’s oldest political party will attend her meeting in Delhi tomorrow to discuss a strategy for the presidential election scheduled next month. Senior INC politicians Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Singh Surjewala will represent their party at the meeting called by the Trinamool Congress leader, sources said.

Sharad Pawar has, however, told his party that he was not in the race. He will attend tomorrow’s opposition meeting. Sources say the veteran is wary of this becoming his swan song as making someone contest for president likely brings an end to his/her political career.

Read this too: How Sharad Pawar fits the description of ‘perfect’ presidential candidate of opposition

Mamata Banerjee had on 11 June written to opposition leaders, requesting them to attend the meeting.

President Ram Nath Kovind’s term ends on 24 July. Elections will be held on 18 July for the next president of the country and counting, if required, will be done on the 21st.

The ruling coalition led by does not have the numbers for a sure-shot victory.

In 2017, the -led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had the support of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) of K Chandrashekar Rao, YSRCP of Jagan Reddy and BJD of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, for BJP’s Ramnath Kovind against Congress-led opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar. This time, Telangana Chief Minister Rao (KCR) is part of efforts to gather opposition forces to take on the BJP jointly.

The polls are based on an electoral college comprising votes of MLAs and MPs. The value of each MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state and the number of assembly seats. The total strength of the electoral college, thus, is 10,86,431. A candidate with more than 50% votes wins. The NDA is 13,000 votes short.

Read this too: President of India election explained

Before Mamata Banerjee launched her initiative for opposition unity for the presidential polls, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had reportedly tasked Mallikarjun Kharge with this task. After the Trinamool Congress head wrote the letter, there were questions over cohesiveness in the opposition. The West Bengal-based party is reported to have then reached out to the INC, which is now sending Mallikarjun Kharge and two other leaders for Mamata Banerjee’s meeting.

Relations between the INC and Mamata Banerjee have a long history of ups and downs from the stage where she accused several veterans in the undivided organisation of being moles of the CPI(M)-led government of West Bengal and left the bigger party to set up her own in 1998.

In the most recent turn of events in their relationship, Mamata Banerjee made her national ambitions evident after winning West Bengal again in a heated contest with the last year. In December, an article in Trinamool Congress mouthpiece Jago Bangla said the INC had gone into a “deep freezer” and opposition parties were now looking up to Mamata Banerjee to fill the vacuum.

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