Yashwant Sinha to be opposition candidate for President

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The opposition parties on Tuesday announced former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha as their consensus candidate for the post of President, election for which is to be held on July 18.

“We (opposition parties) have unanimously decided that Yashwant Sinha will be our common candidate for the Presidential election,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told media persons soon after the meeting of the combined opposition parties held at the Parliament Annexe.

The meeting was called by NCP top leader Sharad Pawar and attended by leaders from the Congress, TMC, Samajwadi Party, CPI, CPI-M, National Conference, and RJD among others.

“In his long and distinguished career in public life, Sinha has served the nation in various capacities. An able administrator, accomplished Parliamentarian, and an acclaimed Union Minister of Finance and External Affairs, he is eminently qualified to uphold the secular and democratic character of the Indian republic and its constitutional values,” he said.

“Ideally, a consensus candidate of the government and the opposition should be elected to the highest office of the republic. However, the initiative for this should have been taken by the government. The Modi government made no serious effort in this direction,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Sinha had resigned from Trinamool Congress (TMC) leading to speculations about his name being finalized for the President’s post as opposition’s candidate.

Last week, the opposition parties had convened a similar meeting wherein several leaders had wanted NCP leader Sharad Pawar to be the opposition candidate. Pawar had, however, declined the offer.

The voting for the Presidential poll is scheduled to be held on July 18 and counting to be held on July 21.

Asserting that the BJP government at the Centre has failed totally in fulfilling its promises and commitments and misusing various agencies as weapons against them, at least a dozen opposition parties on Tuesday announced a consensus candidate for the President and appealed to the rest to support him.

After announcing the name of former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha soon after the opposition parties’ meeting concluded on Tuesday, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “India is passing through difficult times. The BJP government at the Centre has failed totally in fulfilling its promises and commitments. Furthermore, it is misusing the Enforcement Directorate, CBI, Election Commission, Governor’s office and other institutions as weapons against opposition parties and state governments run by them.”

“Therefore, we assure the people of India that the unity of opposition parties, which has been forged for the Presidential election in a spirit of equality, common commitments and consensus building through dialogues, will be further consolidated in the months ahead,” he said.

Stating that ideally, a consensus candidate of the government and the opposition should be elected to the highest office of the republic, Ramesh said, “However, the initiative for this should have been taken by the government. The Modi government made no serious effort in this direction. We, therefore, appeal to all the parties to support the candidature of Sinha so that the nation can have a worthy Rashtrapati elected unopposed.”

Ramesh described Sinha as an able administrator, accomplished Parliamentarian, and an acclaimed Union Minister of Finance and External Affairs, and someone who is “eminently qualified to uphold the secular and democratic character of the Indian republic and its constitutional values.”

Hours ahead of this meeting, Sinha had resigned from Trinamool Congress (TMC) leading to speculations about his name being finalized for the President’s post as opposition candidate.

The meeting was called by NCP top leader Sharad Pawar and attended by leaders from the Congress, TMC, Samajwadi Party, CPI, CPI-M, National Conference, and RJD among others.

On June 15, a similar meeting was called by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee to, what she had described as an effort “to build consensus on a joint opposition candidate.” However, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) had skipped the meeting.

The voting for the Presidential poll is scheduled to be held on July 18 and counting to be held on July 21. In an electoral college of around 10.86 lakh votes for the Presidential polls, the BJP and its alliance partners in the NDA are a little short of the halfway mark.

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