Amid soaring speculation on his candidacy in the upcoming Presidential Polls 2022, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar reportedly said on Monday that he won't be a part of the presidential race.
"I am not in the race, I will not be opposition candidate for the President's post," said the 81-year-old former Union Minister at a meeting of his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Mumbai last evening, as per media reports.
However, Congress is yet to receive the formal denial from Sharad Pawar.
According to sources, the NCP leader is reluctant because he is not confident that the opposition can rack up the numbers needed to push its candidate and Mr Pawar, clearly is not inclined to contest a losing battle.
Speculations on Sharad Pawar's candidacy
Ahead of an Opposition meeting on June 15 called by Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minsiter Mamata Banerjee over upcoming presidential election, speculation suggests the Opposition parties are zeroing in on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar as their presidential candidate.
"If Sharad Pawar's name comes up as a candidate for presidential elections, then Maharashtra Congress is with him," said Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, as per The Free Press Journal.
While no statement has come from AAP on the record, sources have anonymously told India Today and FPJ that the party would support Pawar. India Today reported there have been a discussion on the subject between Pawar and AAP leader Sanjay Singh.
The New Indian Express reported that Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are also in favour of Pawar. The paper cited highly placed sources as saying that Kharge recently met Pawar in Mumbai to convey Sonia's message.
"In this meeting, Kharge conveyed Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s message that NCP chief Sharad Pawar should contest the presidential elections as a united candidate of Opposition against the BJP candidate," the paper described the meeting, noting that Pawar has not yet said yes.
Maharshtra CM Uddhav Thackeray is also supportive of Pawar and has said that he would approach other parties as well to garner support for him, according to the paper.
It quoted a source as saying, "He [Uddhav] said that Pawar has 50 years of electoral politics experience. He was chief minister of Maharashtra for four times and defence minister and agriculture minister. He played a major role in the development of Maharashtra and India and he deserves such a coveted post at the fag end of his career."
About Presidential Polls 2022
The Election Commission of India (ECI) scheduled the upcoming Presidential Election on July 18.
According to EC, 4,809 electors comprising MPs and MLAs will vote to elect incumbent Ram Nath Kovind's successor. Kovind's term ends on July 24 and an election for the next president has to be held before that day.
Going by its strength in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, as well as in many state assemblies, the BJP is in a comfortable position to ensure the victory of the candidate nominated by it in the upcoming election.
The nominations can be filed after the issue of notification on June 15 and can be filed till June 29, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said at a press conference.
Scrutiny of nominations will take place on June 30 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be July 2.
If necessary, the voting will take place on July 18 and counting of votes on July 21.