Opposition leaders are set to meet in Delhi on Wednesday to finalise common candidates for the upcoming presidential and vice-presidential elections. The meeting is slated to take place at around 4 PM, and leaders from 17 parties, namely JD (U), CPI, CPI-M, SP, DMK, NCP, RJD and TMC, besides some other regional parties, will be in attendance. President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24, and the presidential elections are scheduled on July 17.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had in a meeting on May 26 called upon all Opposition leaders to build a consensus on the presidential nominee, however, finding unison among all parties has proved to be difficult. While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has endorsed a second term for President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress has been non-committal on the issue.
Many Opposition parties, including Congress, are keen that NCP chief Sharad Pawar contest for the President’s post. Pawar has shown no interest so far. The Opposition has also reached out to Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is also under consideration. The parties have already said they were willing to “consider” if the ruling coalition proposes an “acceptable” name.
On the other hand, BJP’s ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, has time and again proposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s name as NDA’s nominee for the Presidential election.
The Election Commission has announced that the last date for putting forward nominations is June 28, while counting of votes will take place on July 20. The President of India is elected by an electoral college that includes national and State legislators, but, currently, there are 13 vacancies in the Electoral College.
President Mukherjee will demit office on July 25, while Vice-President Hamid Ansari will complete his second tenure in August.