With President Ram Nath Kovind’s term ending July 24, the Election Commission of India Thursday announced that polling to elect the country’s 15th President will be held July 18 and the votes will be counted July 21.
The ruling BJP-led NDA and the Opposition are yet to reveal their choice of candidates. That the nominee of the NDA, which has around 48 per cent votes in the electoral college, will win the Presidential race, with the help of some friendly parties like the BJD of Odisha and YSRCP of Andhra Pradesh, is a foregone conclusion. But the Opposition is trying to ensure a contest like last time.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee and NCP chief Sharad Pawar as part of efforts to find a consensus candidate. She has already spoken to other leaders like Sitaram Yechury of the CPM. It is learnt that Gandhi told the leaders that Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, would be the point person on behalf of her party for the election.
Sources in the Opposition camp said consultations are on between like-minded parties to find a consensus candidate. But the Opposition, unlike in 2017, is badly divided. “There will be a contest for sure. And we will field a candidate who is acceptable to all,” a senior Opposition leader said. Sources said top leaders of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and the Left parties have exchanged notes. A formal meeting is yet to be scheduled.
-The Indian Express