Presidential poll: Opposition decide to field joint candidate

In the meeting, a resolution was passed to field a common candidate in the next Presidential poll. "In the forthcoming Presidential election which is being held on the 75th anniversary of India's independence, we have decided to field a common candidate who can truly serve as custodian of the Constitution and stop the Modi government from doing further damage to Indian democracy and India's social fabric," it said.

The opposition parties on Wednesday decided to field a joint candidate in the Presidential polls next months.

A meeting of opposition leaders, called by Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was held here on building consensus on zeroing in on a joint opposition candidate.

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In the meeting, a resolution was passed to field a common candidate in the next Presidential poll.

"In the forthcoming Presidential election which is being held on the 75th anniversary of India's independence, we have decided to field a common candidate who can truly serve as custodian of the Constitution and stop the Modi government from doing further damage to Indian democracy and India's social fabric," it said.

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Banerjee said all important political parties sent their representatives and several senior leaders attended the meeting.

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"One or two parties did not attend the meeting and they must have their reason. All the members in the meeting unanimously named Sharad Pawar. If Pawar is ready, it is ok. If not, then names will come for political parties. It (name) will be discussed and decided. Today is the beginning and I think after so many months we sat together and we will do it again... for the bulldozing going on in the country's democratic system. Every institution is totally misused politically and it is necessary we must sit together," she said.

An opposition leader present in the meeting said that the Trinamool supremo proposed the name of NCP chief Pawar and everyone agreed.

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"But Pawar refused and said he will be active in politics till his death."

Banerjee also suggested names of Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi for opposition nominee for Presidential polls but no discussion was held on the names. It is learnt that opposition leaders will meet again on June 21 to finalise the candidate.

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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said: "Congress will play a constructive role in ensuring that the parties assembled here this afternoon arrive at a consensus candidate in the next few days. Let us be proactive and not be reactive. The Congress has no particular candidate in mind. It will sit together with all of you and arrive at a candidate acceptable to all."

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Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, NCP chief Pawar, Congress' Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, and Randeep Singh Surjewala, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's T.R. Balu, Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, RJD's Manoj Jha and others attended the meeting.

The presidential poll will be held on July 18 and counting of votes will take place on July 21.

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