The Congress has taken a step back for the sake of opposition unity in the presidential polls as the opposition parties will meet on June 21 to discuss the candidate for the Presidential election. The meeting will be chaired by NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The Congress is not pushing anybody’s candidature and will go with the opposition’s choice for the sake of opposition unity. Sources say that Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge made the point in the meeting convened by Mamata Banerjee on June 15 that the party is aware that many of the parties around this table compete with each other in assembly elections. But that has not prevented this meeting from taking place. “Each one of us has taken a larger national view and come here for a bigger cause. Let this spirit continue,” Kharge said.
The reason for the Congress stepping back is opposition unity as parties like the TRS have openly said that they are not going to share the stage with the Congress and did not come for the meeting. Now with Pawar taking centre stage it is expected that many parties who skipped the meeting may join in.
Sources say that 17 parties will attend the meeting on Tuesday. The parties have to arrive at a consensus on the candidate’s name after Sharad Pawar declined to contest. The opposition parties had on June 15 decided to field a joint candidate in the Presidential polls next month.
Kharge had said, “I want to right away say clearly that the Congress party will play a constructive role in ensuring that the parties assembled here this afternoon arrive at a consensus candidate in the next few days. Let us be proactive and not be reactive”.
The Congress is pushing for a joint candidate from the opposition to give a tough challenge to the ruling BJP and to test the waters for opposition unity ahead of the general elections. The Congress said the candidate should be someone committed to upholding the Constitution, its values, principles and provisions in letter and spirit, someone committed to guaranteeing that all institutions of our democracy function without fear or favour, someone committed to protecting the rights of all our citizens and preserving the secular fabric of our diverse society, someone committed to speaking out boldly against the forces of prejudice, hatred, bigotry and polarization and someone committed to being a powerful force for furthering social justice and empowerment.
The last meeting of opposition leaders called by Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was held for building a consensus on a joint opposition candidate. In the meeting, a resolution was passed to field a common candidate.
“In the forthcoming Presidential election which is being held on the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, we have decided to field a common candidate who can truly serve as custodian of the Constitution and stop the Modi government from doing further damage to Indian democracy and India’s social fabric,” it said.
Banerjee said all important political parties sent their representatives and several senior leaders attended the meeting.