Yashwant Sinha, a former Union Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, was today named the joint opposition candidate for President polls. The BJP is yet to announce its pick for the July polls.
Opposition leaders, who gathered at the Parliament annexe for the meeting convened by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, unanimously agreed on Mr Sinha’s name.
“In the forthcoming Presidential elections, we have decided to elect a common candidate and stop the Modi government from doing further damage. At a subsequent meeting held today we have chosen Yashwant Sinha as a common candidate. We appeal to all political parties to vote for Yashwant Sinha,” said Jairam Ramesh, Congress’s communication chief, reading from a joint statement by the opposition.
The joint statement appealed to the BJP and its allies to support the candidature of Mr Sinha so that the nation can have a “worthy Rashtrapati elected unopposed”.
A committee has been formed to steer Yashwant Sinha’s campaign.
“We regret Modi government made no serious effort to have consensus on a presidential candidate,” said Mr Ramesh.
Reading out the joint statement, he added that the unity of opposition parties forged for presidential poll will be further consolidated in the months ahead
Earlier in the day, Mr Sinha, a Trinamool leader, dropped the big hint about his candidature when he said he “must step aside” from the party to work for greater opposition unity.
“I am grateful to Mamataji for the honour and prestige she bestowed on me in the TMC. Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity. I am sure she approves of the step,” he tweeted.
Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had earlier declined to run for President.
The BJP will also hold its parliamentary board meeting today where it’s likely to finalise its pick for the presidential polls.
The process to elect a new president began on June 15. The last date for filing of nominations is June 29. The polls, if necessary, will be held on July 18 and the counting on July.