Oppn unity in limbo? Mamata Banerjee likely to skip next meeting on Presidential election

In a potential blow to opposition unity, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is likely to skip a meeting on the Presidential election called by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Speaking to PTI, a TMC functionary attributed her absence to “prior engagements” and revealed that another party leader will attend the meeting scheduled to be held in the national capital on June 21. Leaders of 17 parties- TMC, Congress, SP, NCP, DMK, RJD, Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), National Conference, PDP, JDS, RSP, IUML, RLD and JMM participated in the previous meeting of the opposition convened by Mamata Banerjee on June 15. 

On this occasion, a resolution was passed on to field a common candidate who will uphold the democratic ethos of the country. However, leaders of AAP, Shiromani Akali Dal, AIMIM, TRS, YSRCP and BJD did not join the deliberations- a development perceived as a setback to the opposition as the voting preference of these parties might tilt the balance in favour of the Narendra Modi-led government. So far, Sharad Pawar and NC president Farooq Abdullah have refused to be the presidential candidate for the opposition. 

Presidential election

As the term of President Ram Nath Kovind is ending on July 24, an election to fill this impending vacancy will be held on July 18. The President will be elected by the Electoral College comprising elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies through a secret ballot. However, the nominated MPs and MLCs of various states are not eligible to partake in this election. The total value of the votes of electors is 10,86,431. While the last date for filing nomination papers is June 29, the counting of votes shall take place on July 21.

So far, both the ruling coalition as well as the opposition are yet to finalise their candidate for the Presidential election. To begin with, BJP deputed its president JP Nadda and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to interact with other political parties to explore the possibility of a consensus candidate. Moreover, it formed a 14-member management team headed by Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat to ensure a smooth election process and ensure the victory of its candidate. A day earlier, Nadda held a meeting with the management team and deliberated on the party’s strategy. 

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