Presidential Polls: After Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar kept Opposition on their toes

Sharad Pawar is learnt to have told Opposition leaders that he was in talks with the Centre on the issue of farmers’ stir in Maharashtra, and urged them to postpone the meeting by a day. Sensing danger, Congress leaders rushed to Pawar’s residence, sources said.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published:June 24, 2017 3:31 am
Sharad Pawar, Presidential Polls, Nitish Kumar, Ram Nath Kovind NCP leader Sharad Pawar (File)

After Nitish Kumar sprung a surprise on opposition parties by deserting them at the last minute to back NDA Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is learnt to have kept them on tenterhooks in the hours before the parties were to meet to pick their candidate on Thursday.

The Maharasthra leader was reluctant to even attend the Opposition meeting, sparking fears that he would throw a wrench in their works, sources said.

Pawar is learnt to have told Opposition leaders that he was in talks with the Centre on the issue of farmers’ stir in Maharashtra, and urged them to postpone the meeting by a day. Sensing danger, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel rushed to Pawar’s residence, sources said.

With Pawar not coming around, sources in Congress said, a call was made to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who joined them to persuade the former Union minister.

Pawar, sources said, was finally convinced after he was told that the Opposition candidate could be announced on Friday. At the meeting, when Pawar suggested that the announcement be postponed by a day, almost all leaders present there opposed the proposal. Opposition leaders read his reluctance as a ploy to buy time.

“He may have thought that some more parties may desert the Opposition camp…we don’t know…. He had something in mind,” a senior leader said.

Even Nitish’s decision had surprised many in the Opposition. The Bihar chief minister had apparently told a senior Opposition leader as early as on June 3 that he is ready to back Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s candidature when they met at an event in Chennai to mark DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s birthday. Even a day before BJP announced Kovind’s name, Nitish is learnt to have spoken with the same leader and had sounded equally firm.

Opposition leaders are divided on whether Nitish would have walked away had they announced a joint candidate first.

Some are also pointing fingers at the Congress for delaying the decision. CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy is learnt to have said in the meeting that the Opposition should have met earlier and firmed up its candidate. “The Congress underestimated the manipulative capacity of BJP,” a senior opposition leader said. “The party should have been ready with two or three candidates and convinced others.”

The leader asserted that the BJP “deliberately leaked some names — like that of Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu — and forced us to wait”.

Even the Trinamool Congress is learnt to have been in favour of delaying the decision. “Mamata Banerjee was in favour of Pranab Mukherjee… She perhaps thought that the Opposition will be left red-faced if the government gave him a second term… She had a fair argument,” a senior leader said.

A Left leader said they were sure that Mukherjee would not get a second term. “The RSS has never come this close to (having one of its leaders in) Rashtrapati Bhavan…. Why would it waste such a chance,” the leader asked.

Congress leaders contended there was no guarantee Nitish Kumar would not have walked away even if the Opposition had announced its candidate earlier. “What if BJP had announced Kovind’s candidature after we named Gopalkrishna Gandhi? The BSP and SP too would have walked out and backed a Dalit candidate… The opposition would have been in bigger disarray,” a Congress leader said in defence of the delayed decision.

Asked whether the Opposition could have set the narrative had it announced its candidate earlier, a senior Congress leader said, “May be…but BJP would have then said that the Opposition did not wait, and that we should have taken them into confidence.”

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  1. N
    nitin Musale
    Jun 25, 2017 at 12:43 am
    Sharad pawar is the chanaykya of indian politics
    Reply
    1. K
      KAPILDEVSURI
      Jun 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm
      if congress was so interested in making a dalit president , why they not sponsored MEERA kumar before in place of PRANAB MUKHERJEE THEY ARE SHAMEFULLY PLAYING LOOSING BATTLE AGAINST THE CHAKYA OF BJP AMIT SHAH TO SAVE THEIR DIRTY FACE . THEY ALL ARE EITHER THIEVES, CHORE , DACOITS LOOTERS, SCANDALISTS ?WHO TOOK BRIBE EVEN IN DEFENSE DEALS?. THEY ALL ARE AFRAID OF THE ROPE WHICH IS GOING TO BE TIED IN THEIR NECK AFTER THE EXPOSURE OF THAR SANDALS with due process of law ?.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sriram Kalpathi
        Jun 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm
        Congress Party has no future.The party has no leaders.Sonia is the only leader,but,she is waiting for Rahul to take over.Rahul is a child in front of Modi.The opposition parties should not support or depend on Congress.A new Dynamic Leader should be groomed to face Modi in the 2019 election,before it is too late.
        Reply
        1. P
          Parth Garg
          Jun 24, 2017 at 2:21 pm
          The most unreliable leader in the India polity is Sharad Pawar
          Reply
          1. A
            Arvind
            Jun 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm
            Sometime it is possible that Sharad Pawar of NCP can instruct internally to his MPs/MLAs to vote as per their conscience and maximum of them would vote for Ram Nath Kovind.Meira Kumar, as ex-Speaker of Lok sabha did not do well as expected to be impartial in dealing with all sne was pro-Soniaji rather than true Speaker to be.Ram Nath, however, would not be like MK but will discharge his duties as per Cons ution of India as acknowledged by Nitish Kumar.
            Reply
            1. K
              K.P.RAJENDRANATHAN
              Jun 24, 2017 at 1:44 pm
              Give up the battle you just canot win.Better make her the next congress president, if you are serious about your love for dalits It would be a tonic for the sagging party, and a great relief for the boy, who love good things in the foreign locations. Also the country saved from the yokes of the dynasty.
              Reply
              1. S
                sree
                Jun 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm
                The best hint of Sharad siding with RSS was when he declined to contest the post of President when it was given to him in a platter way back in May itself If he would have contested he might have a given a good fight to anyone from BJP rank always remember that Shekawat defeated Shinde A Dalit candidate for Vice president There are always some individual like Sharad and Nitish who wants to have the best of two worlds unfortunately they will be sinked soon
                Reply
                1. M
                  M.P.Rao
                  Jun 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm
                  If the congress was so fond of a Dalit candidate and that too Meenakumari, why did not offer her Presidentship earlier?When BJP had put up Shakavat,they searched out a person with similar surname and put up PratibhaPatil.All this love for Dalit is therefore fake.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    sree
                    Jun 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm
                    If BJP loves Dalit why cannot they have the UP CM or Haryana CM or Maharastra CM as Dalit or even Dalit as PM All parties think they can get votes of Dalit if they choose a candidate for some insignificant post
                    Reply
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