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Sharad Pawar Out of Presidential Race? NCP Says He ‘Won’t Restrict Himself to Rashtrapati Bhavan’

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: June 15, 2022, 00:09 IST

Pawar can upset the equation of the ruling party which is hoping to get support of other smaller parties.
 (Image: PTI/File)

Pawar can upset the equation of the ruling party which is hoping to get support of other smaller parties. (Image: PTI/File)

NCP said Sharad Pawar is now busy trying to cobble up a united opposition front for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections

Amid increased speculations that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar is likely to be the opposition candidate for the July Presidential elections, his party said that the veteran politician isn’t really keen on contesting the poll.

According to a senior NCP minister, 81-year-old Pawar is a “people’s man” and won’t “restrict himself to the Rashtrapati Bhavan”. “…I don’t think he is keen on it (contesting polls). Saheb (Pawar) is a people’s man who loves meeting people. He will not restrict himself to the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” PTI quoted the leader as saying. The issue of Pawar’s candidature was raised during a meeting of the NCP president with Maharashtra NCP ministers in Mumbai on Monday.

The minister added that Pawar is now busy trying to cobble up a united opposition front for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Earlier, sources in the NCP had also said that Pawar himself has indicated that he is not in the race to become the President. However, sources added that the NCP chief has not explicitly said anything on the issue.

The NCP also questioned if the opposition has the numbers to clinch victory in the Presidential elections. Chhagan Bhujbal, senior NCP leader, said in Mumbai that there is no doubt that if Sharad Pawar becomes the President, every Marathi’s chest will swell with pride. “But the question is: Do we have the required numbers?” NDTV quoted him as saying.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Tuesday that Pawar has refused to be the opposition parties’ nominee for the presidential election. Pawar met Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, and NCP leaders Praful Patel and P C Chacko in Delhi and conveyed to them his decision to not contest the election, according to PTI.

“I have been informed that Pawar will not be the opposition face for the presidential polls, other names are under consideration,” said Yechury. Opposition sources said Pawar was not keen to enter a battle that he is destined to lose at this point in his political career.

Pawar’s possible Presidential candidature was backed by the Congress and the party has also conveyed its support to the NCP chief to its allies wherever the party is in the government.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had met Sharad Pawar last Thursday, with a message from party chief Sonia Gandhi. The two leaders met in Mumbai. AAP leader Sanjay Singh also reportedly called on the NCP supremo on Sunday.

Pawar’s reported refusal to not contest the polls comes a day before the opposition meeting on Wednesday that has been called by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. She also met Pawar on Tuesday in Delhi and reportedly was trying to convince the veteran leader to be the joint opposition nominee for the polls. Pawar, however, downplayed his meeting with Mamata and said they discussed details on “various issues related to our country”.

The number game

The BJP-led NDA is comfortably placed to win the presidential election, with its vote share touching the 50 per cent mark of the total electors. While there are 776 MPs of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, each having 700 votes, there are 4,033 legislators in states with different votes who will also elect President Ram Nath Kovind’s successor.

Though the final list of electors is yet to be notified, the NDA has 440 MPs in its favour while the opposition UPA has around 180 MPs, besides 36 MPs of the TMC who normally support the opposition candidate. The election for the President will be held on July 18 which will see voting by members of both the Houses of Parliament and state Assemblies.

The 16th Presidential polls will be held on July 18 and counting will be taken up on July 21.

(With PTI inputs)

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first published:June 14, 2022, 10:18 IST
last updated:June 15, 2022, 00:09 IST