New Delhi: His name has been doing the rounds in opposition circles for quite some time, but on Wednesday, Sharad Pawar told Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who has been trying to put up a common face to take on the BJP’s nominee, that he is not keen to run for the President’s post.
“Sonia Gandhi requested Sharad Pawar to be the opposition’s candidate for President, but he has asked her to find someone else,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
The NCP assesses that the opposition does not have the strength and support to field a seasoned and senior leader like its party chief for President. It would not like Pawar to be the losing candidate in a contest for the post. Party sources said the only way Sharad Pawar could reconsider is if a united opposition can ensure that the BJP-led government is unable to get any more numbers in the electoral college than it already has.
And that is a tough ask. The NDA has over 48 per cent votes and has already been offered support by at least one opposition party —the YSR Congress of Andhra Pradesh. It hopes to pull over 10 per cent more votes with support from friendly parties like the AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal.
The unknown factor in the NDA, however, is the Shiv Sena, which has voted for the other side’s candidate in the last two Presidential elections. The Shiv Sena has said Sharad Pawar will make a good President.
Sonia Gandhi has taken the lead to bring together opposition parties to field a common candidate for President against the BJP’s nominee. Among the first opposition leaders she met was 76-year-old Sharad Pawar. Sonia Gandhi has also met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday and earlier, the Left’s Sitaram Yechury and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has pitched for a second term for President Pranab Mukherjee.