A day before Opposition parties meet in the capital to discuss their strategy for the presidential elections at the behest of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar met the TMC leader in Delhi on Tuesday amid growing speculation of him being the presidential candidate from the opposition camp.
Soon after their meeting, Pawar tweeted a picture of him with Banerjee and wrote, “Ms. Mamata Banerjee called upon me at my residence in Delhi today. We had a detailed discussion on various issues related to our country.”
Banerjee had invited 22 Opposition leaders to come to a consensus regarding a presidential candidate. “The presidential elections are around the corner, presenting the perfect opportunity for all progressive opposition parties to reconvene and deliberate on the future course of Indian politics,” she wrote. Banerjee is in Delhi for the meeting. However, she decided to visit Pawar at his Delhi residence ahead of the big opposition meeting.
However, earlier today Pawar had ruled himself out of the presidential race. “I am not in the race. I will not be the opposition candidate for the President’s post,” Pawar was quoted by Times of India as saying.
The speculation over Pawar as an Opposition candidate for the President elections was set off as early as July 2021, when political strategist Prashant Kishor had met the Maharashtra veteran. Even back then, the NCP chief had dismissed any chances of him contesting the elections. “When a single party (the ruling BJP) has more than 300 MPs, what will be the result of the (Presidential) election, I know. I will not be a Presidential candidate,” said Pawar as reported by The Indian Express.
Last week, Pawar’s meeting with senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, reportedly with a message from the party chief Sonia Gandhi, was also viewed, in a way, as Congress’ push to name the NCP leader for the upcoming polls. Pawar has been significant in stitching up an opposition front against the PM Modi-led government at the Centre. He has been the central figure who is credited with the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra by sidelining the BJP in a fierce battle that ensued after the elections results, two and half year back.