Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said on Wednesday that its president, veteran politician Sharad Pawar, has declined an offer to become the Opposition’s candidate for the Presidential election that is to be held in July. The party’s chief national spokesperson Nawab Malik said this in Mumbai. “Congress President Sonia Gandhiji conveyed to Pawar saheb that he should be a candidate. But Saheb has declined to contest,” said Mr Malik.
Mr Pawar and Mrs Gandhi had a meeting recently in Delhi where both leaders discussed the Presidential election in detail. According to Mr Malik, Mrs Gandhi offered Mr Pawar an opportunity to be the Opposition’s candidate in the meeting. However, Mr Pawar suggested that Mrs Gandhi find someone else, he claimed.
As Opposition parties are trying to reach to a consensus on a capable candidate who can take on the NDA candidate successfully, Mr Pawar’s name has always been doing the rounds. His contacts across parties and ability to pull NDA votes due to personal equations were always talking points.
However, sources close to Mr Pawar confirmed that the party has assessed the situation. A source said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enough numbers to bring in his man. Recently Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSR Congress extended his support for the BJP. With his support, Mr Modi will have enough votes. In such a case, it is of no meaning to go for an election.”
Earlier there was a buzz in the corridors of power that CPM leader Sitaram Yechury had suggested that Mr Pawar be the Opposition’s candidate. But then too Mr Pawar had rejected the offer and reportedly suggested the option of Manipur governor Najma Heptulla.
There are also reports that a certain section of Opposition parties have unofficially established contact with former governor and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopalkrishna Gandhi to run in the race.