All the parties at a meeting of Opposition on Wednesday requested Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to contest the presidential election but he declined, following which Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee suggested names of Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the joint Opposition candidate.
At least 17 parties have come together over the upcoming presidential elections in Delhi in a meeting of Opposition convened by Banerjee. The meeting began at 3 pm.
DMK's TR Bali said all parties requested NCP leader Sharad Pawar to contest president's poll as Opposition's candidate, but he declined. He added that leaders leaders requested Mallikarjun Kharge, Mamata Banerjee, and Sharad Pawar to discuss with parties on joint opposition presidential candidate.
RSP's NK Premchandran said Banerjee suggested names of Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Who joined the meeting?
Leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, NCP, DMK, RJD, and the Left parties attended the meeting called by the Trinamool Congress supremo.
Leaders of Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), National Conference, PDP, JD(S), RSP, IUML, RLD and the JMM also attended the meeting
Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel of the NCP, Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala of the Congress, H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), Akhilesh Yadav of the SP, Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference were among the prominent leaders in the meeting.
Which parties did not attend the meeting?
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had invitated former BJP ally Akali Dal but the party skipped the meeting alongside Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party (AAP).
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJD) also didn't show up
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, who was on the same page with Banerjee over their common goal of dismantling the BJP, also opted out of the meeting this morning. They have cited invitation to Congress despite their objections as the reason behind their decision to retreat.
"There is no question of sharing any platform with the Congress," said the TRS their statement.
The party lashed out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
"Rahul Gandhi, in a recent public meeting in Telangana had targeted the TRS government without any word of criticism against the BJP," the party sated in their official statement accusing the Congress of "ganging up with the BJP" in Telangana, especially in recent by-polls.
The TRS also complained against what it called the "method of trying to put up an opposition presidential candidate".
"Even otherwise, TRS is not in agreement with this method of trying to put up an opposition presidential candidate. In this case, the candidate was already chosen, and the candidate's opinion was taken, after which the meeting was called. Why was it done this way? The right procedure would have been to hold meetings, arrive at a consensus, take the candidate's approval, and then announce the name after a meeting," the party fumed.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi claimed that he was not invited.
"We have not been invited and we would not have attended because Congress party has been invited," Mr Owaisi said.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP, which is in power in Andhra Pradesh, is also be absent at the meeting.
The presidential elections will take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21.
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh speaks to Sharad Pawar, Mallikarjun Kharge, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Naveen Patnaik as BJP eyes consensus candidate
As the Opposition held its first meeting on presidential polls on Wednesday, the ruling BJP reached out to several parties across the political spectrum to build a consensus choice for the top constitutional post with senior party leader Rajnath Singh speaking to Sharad Pawar, Mallikarjun Kharge, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Naveen Patnaik, sources said on Wednesday.
Singh also talked to BJP ally and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and YSR Congress leader Jagan Reddy.
Singh made the calls to leaders from opposition parties Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Samajwadi Party (SP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) among others and enquired from them about their preference for the next President.
Incidentally Kharge, Banerjee, Pawar and Yadav were part of the Opposition meeting on the poll, where the NCP supremo Pawar emerged as the top choice for the combine. He, however, declined the proposal for contesting the poll in which the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has a clear numerical advantage over the Opposition.
Singh has also called Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to deliberate upon the presidential polls, the sources said.
The opposition leaders asked Singh about BJP-led NDA's nominee for the presidential election, they said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has authorised Singh and party's chief J P Nadda to consult with other parties for building consensus on a presidential candidate.
Party sources said Nadda will also hold interactions with leaders from across the political spectrum.
During the meeting convened by Banerjee, at least two more names emerged -- National Conference (NC) supremo Farooq Abdullah and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi -- after NCP leader Pawar declined to be a candidate for the post of President.
The election for the President will be held on July 18, while the nomination process began from Wednesday. Incumbent Ram Nath Kovind's term ends on July 24.
(With PTI inputs)