- Sharad Pawar out of race
- Mamata suggests Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah
- TRS, BKD, AAP and Akalis skip the meet
New Delhi: Leaders of 16 opposition parties met in Delhi at the initiative of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee. The meeting was unproductive besides exposing the differences in the opposition ranks. K Chandrasekhar Rao who has been, of late, supporting Mamata in her fight against the BJP bunked the meeting citing the participation of the Congress as the reason for his boycott. Naveen Patnaik’s BJP did not show up. Akali Dal also showed the Congress as an excuse while AAP said they will wait for some more time and consider the candidate announced by the ruling BJP.
Mamata’s idea of formulating a joint strategy for the upcoming presidential poll did not materialize. At the meeting held at the Constitutional Club of India in Delhi on Wednesday, June 15, Sharad Pawar’s name was proposed by Mamata as the candidate to be sponsored by the opposition in the presidential election. But the Nationalist Congress Party’s strong man said no.
Mamata told the reporters after the meeting, “Several parties were here today. We have decided we will choose only on consensus candidate. Everybody will give this candidate our support. We will consult with others. This is a good beginning. We sat together after several months and we will do it again.”
As Pawar declined to be a candidate, Mamata has suggested the names of Gopalkrishna Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and former Governor) and Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the meanwhile, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, who was asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss with the opposition leaders to arrive at a consensus, rang up Mamata Banerjee, Mallikharjun Kharge and Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday requesting them to suggest names. When the opposition leaders wanted to know the names being proposed by the ruling party, Rajnath Singh kept mum. Thus, the discussion of opposition leaders with Rajnath Singh was inconclusive.
Mamata Banerjee at the meeting said it is a good augury that in the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the opposition is trying to put up a common candidate who can protect the constitution. She was critical of BJP saying that in the last eight years she had never seen ‘Achche Din.’
The meeting was attended by Congress, DMK, Shiv Sena, NCP, RJD, SP, National Conference, PDP, JD(S), CPI, CPI(M), CPIML, RSP, RLD,IUML and JMM. Mamata had written last week to 22 opposition leaders inviting them to Delhi for the meeting. The TRS did not want to share a platform with the Congress saying that the BJP and the Congress were in league in Telangana during by-polls. Aam Admi Party said it will consider the issue only after the ruling party announced its candidate. Naveen Patnaik did not budge from his neutral position while the Akalis did not take Mamata’s invitation seriously as they are yet to join hands with opposition. They also found fault with Mamata for inviting the Congress.