Pawar’s refusal can make Presidential poll one-sided

Though Mamata basked in the glory of playing the pivotal role in mobilising the opposition, the mood of the other participants was not so upbeat.

Published: 18th June 2022 08:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th June 2022 08:39 AM   |  A+A-

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar (Photo | PTI)

There was much excitement at New Delhi’s Constitution Club earlier this week. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called a meeting of the opposition parties to discuss the possibility of fielding a joint opposition candidate in the Presidential election due next month. Seventeen parties attended. There was a consensus on the name of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. All leaders present at the meeting requested Pawar to take up the challenge. But the wily satrap knew the odds and politely declined the offer. The opposition leaders dispersed with a resolve to meet again next week to finalise their candidate. They requested Pawar to reconsider their offer. 

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Though Mamata basked in the glory of playing the pivotal role in mobilising the opposition, the mood of the other participants was not so upbeat. The absence of parties that have the potential to tilt the balance against the ruling NDA came as a dampener. These parties are the BJD headed by Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and YSR Congress headed by Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy. All the non-NDA parties, except the BJD and YSRCP, are likely to vote against the ruling NDA’s candidate. This includes the AAP, which did not attend the opposition’s meeting. But their vote is not enough to secure victory for their candidate.

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The insistence on Pawar’s name is solely because of his ability to win friends across the political spectrum and his bond with leaders around the country. Opposition leaders are cognisant of the fact that in order to mount a meaningful challenge, they need Pawar as their candidate. His refusal to contest would make the Presidential election one-sided. The BJP, leading the ruling alliance, has moved swiftly to buttress its support base. It has reached out to fence-sitters, including Naveen and Jagan. Between them, the two leaders control a big chunk of votes. All eyes are fixed on these two leaders and their moves are being watched carefully. Not many in the opposition camp feel that Naveen and Jagan would vote against the BJP candidate. The numbers, therefore, appear clearly in favour of the ruling alliance.


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