After Sonia Gandhi’s call, party leaders from Maharashtra met NCP chief Sharad Pawar
They will also meet Shiv Sena President & CM Uddhav Thackeray on Friday
Incidentally, Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are sharing power in Maharashtra from November 2019
Mumbai: Hours after the Election Commission announced the schedule for the presidential election on July 18, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in a telephonic call, asked leaders from Maharashtra to meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray with a message that like-minded parties ought to field a common nominee to take on the BJP candidate.
Following Sonia’s instructions, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, who is also the Congress Legislature Party leader, and Public Work Minister Ashok Chavan, accompanied by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, met Pawar at his Silver Oak residence and held discussion on fielding a consensus candidate of non-BJP and like-minded parties in the presidential election.
Pawar conveyed to state Congress leaders that he is on the same page as Gandhi on this issue and said that he will also hold talks with like-minded parties to arrive at a consensus candidate against the BJP nominee.
The Congress leaders will now meet Thackeray with Gandhi’s message and take Shiv Sena on board. Incidentally, the MVA government comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress has completed two-and-a-half years.
A senior Congress leader told the Free Press Journal that they will also approach other like-minded parties, including DMK, TMC and SP, on the presidential poll. He said Maharashtra can be a key contributor of votes in the presidential Electoral College in view of the combined strength of the three parties plus independents and smaller outfits.
He recalled that under the BJP dispensation in Maharashtra, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had played a key role in the presidential election held in July 2017. Largely owing to his efforts, NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind secured votes of 208 MLAs -- 23 more than the collective tally of MLAs of the BJP and the Shiv Sena, which were then sharing power in the state.
Opposition nominee Meira Kumar secured votes of 77 MLAs, which was six less than the total strength of the Congress and the NCP in the state assembly.