Even though Congress president Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of opposition party leaders in Delhi on Friday, the Opposition still remains unclear and might be forced to persuade a reluctant NCP chief Sharad Pawar to be the Opposition’s Presidential candidate in the coming days, according to a report published by The Indian Express. The report quoted sources saying that if Sharad Pawar is selected as the Opposition candidate, it may help them garner support from NDA. “He is not keen. We will try and persuade him because he is the only one who can break the Shiv Sena,” a senior Opposition leader told The Indian Express.
In a joint statement, the parties said the “normal practice has been that the ruling party takes the initiative to build a consensus on the names of candidates for these important posts (and) this has not happened so far. If acceptable candidates do not emerge, then we (Opposition parties) shall decide to field such persons who shall steadfastly defend the Constitutional values of our republic.” However, none of the leaders directly commented on the situation. The CPI’s D Raja said: “No names were taken…. That shows the maturity of the parties. At this time, how can anybody take names?”
The meeting was attended by Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, another Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, leader A.K. Antony, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, CPI’s D Raja and JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav, veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajma, JD (S) member CS Puttaraju, the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders Ram Gopal Yadav, Naresh Agarwal, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chief Mayawati, DMK leader Kanimozhi, Kerala Congress leader Jose Mani, IUML leader P.K. Kunhalikutty, National Conference’s working president Omar Abdullah, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) member N.K.Premachandran, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Party (JMM) MP Sanjeev Kumar, J. Iemant Soren.