The presidential polls are set to be held on 18 July, and the efforts to rally the opposition on a joint presidential candidate to challenge the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA’s) nominee have begun.
TMC Taking The Lead
This time, it is the Trinamool Congress (TMC), led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that is claiming a central role in bringing various non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties together. Usually, it is Congress that takes the lead in such matters. However, Banerjee has made it clear that she is not ready to play second fiddle to Congress.
Other Parties Wary Of TMC’s Unilateral Approach
She unilaterally called the meeting and sent the letters to 22 opposition leaders and chief ministers inviting them for a meeting in Delhi on 15 June 2022 to deliberate on probable names and form a strategy in the wake of presidential polls. It was reported that many party leaders, including Congress and the Left, were wary of TMC’s one-sided approach. Their ruse is that she called a meeting without first consulting with others, as is the norm, to decide on a time and venue suitable to all.
Sensing that the meeting may not be attended by most of the party’s top-most leadership, Banerjee met with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Sharad Pawar in Delhi. She expressed her support for Pawar’s candidature. However, the NCP chief has refused to be the opposition's candidate. He wants to remain in active politics.
Left Parties’ Conundrum
It is apparent that the Left parties are not comfortable with joining the TMC-led platform. However, for the sake of avoiding fissures in the opposition camp, both Congress and the Left have agreed to send their representatives to attend the meeting called by the TMC.
The announcement came after Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja met Pawar in Delhi on 14 June, who urged them to keep their politics aside to form a formidable challenge to the NDA in the polls due next month.
Congress On A Backfoot
Congress, which has faced multiple defeats in the last few state elections and is at its weakest, is not able to assert itself. It is not going to pitch its own candidate but has agreed to go with a consensus candidate. The party would send Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala to attend the meeting on behalf of the party, as per the news reports.
Parties Not Attending TMC’s Meet
Mamata Banerjee shares a cordial relationship with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K C R Rao. However, both parties have shown their unwillingness to attend the meeting.
AAP is waiting for the opposition camp to announce its candidate before it decides to support them. Biju Janata Dal, which is not a part of the NDA, was also invited to the meeting but it has opted out.
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