After Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah refused, former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Monday also rejected the request of leaders of opposition parties to contest the upcoming presidential election. .
Amid hopes of further cementing the alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Pawar will chair a meeting of leaders of 17 opposition parties on Tuesday.
A senior Trinamool Congress leader said in Kolkata that some opposition parties have suggested making former Union Minister and Trinamool Congress vice-president Yashwant Sinha as the joint opposition candidate for the presidential election.
The 84-year-old Sinha served as the Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet. Initially seen as a LK Advani loyalist, Sinha came under the attention of the BJP’s patron in later years. He then remained in the BJP till 2018, when he alleged that the country’s democracy was facing “threat” under the Narendra Modi government.
The BJP is also keeping silent about the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate for the 16th presidential election to be held on 18 July. The results of the elections will be declared on July 21.
The process of filing nomination papers for the presidential election started from June 15, which will continue till June 29.
Gopal Krishna Gandhi, 77, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and great-grandson of C. Rajagopalachari, said in a statement that several leaders of opposition parties considered his name to be the opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential election, which showed respect for him. The thing is.
Gandhi said, ‘I am extremely grateful to him. But after considering this matter deeply, I see that the candidate of the opposition should be such that apart from the unity of the opposition, there should be a consensus at the national level.
Gandhi said, ‘I think there will be more people who will do a better job than me. That’s why I have requested the leaders that such a person should be given an opportunity. India should get a President like Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari) as the last Governor General and the post which was first graced by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Former diplomat Gopal Krishna Gandhi has also served as India’s High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka. Earlier, leaders of opposition parties had a meeting in Delhi on June 15, in which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed the names of Pawar and Abdullah as possible candidates for the presidential election.
Pawar had rejected the offer saying he was happy to continue “his service for the common good”. At the same time, Abdullah had expressed his reluctance saying that ‘he wants to contribute in taking the Union Territory (Jammu and Kashmir) forward from the current critical juncture’.
The selection of a joint candidate of the opposition parties is a difficult step, as it is difficult to reach a consensus with the diverse views of regional parties.
Last week, the Shiv Sena demanded the rejection of the candidatures of Gandhi and Abdullah, saying “their names often come up during presidential elections”.
The Shiv Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, had said Abdullah and Gandhi “do not have strong points” in the alliance of the opposition parties and they lack the “stature” needed to make the presidential election competitive. Ram Nath Kovind’s term as President will end on July 24 and his successor will take over the next day.
According to the Indian Express report, there were signs of consensus being formed on the name of Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Even parties like the AAP indicated that this might be acceptable to him as his illustrious career spanned the worlds of diplomacy and academia.
An opposition leader involved in the talks said, “The idea was to also focus on the fact that he is the grandson of the Mahatma.” This would have given a powerful message in the 75th year of Independence, especially when the forces behind the assassination of the Father of the Nation seem more excited than ever.
In 2017 also the opposition camp wanted to field Gandhi, but the NDA’s decision to accept Ramnath Kovind as its face forced him to reconsider. Eventually, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who was also a Dalit like Kovind, was fielded by the opposition. At the same time, Gandhi fought unsuccessfully for the post of Vice President.
(with input from news agency language)
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