- Yashwant Sinha, 84, is a staunch critic of the Modi government
- Sinha had quit BJP in 2018. He joined the Trinamool Congress in 2021
- Opposition has appealed to the BJP and its allies to support Sinha's candidature
President election: Yashwant Sinha has been unanimously named the joint candidate of the opposition parties for the Presidential election. The opposition in a joint statement released on Tuesday afternoon made an appeal to BJP and its allies to support Yashwant Sinha "so we can have a worthy 'rashtrapati' elected unopposed".
The announcement was made after Sinha emerged as the consensus presidential candidate of 13 opposition parties, including the Congress, the TMC and the Samajwadi Party, which met in Delhi on Tuesday. The meeting took place at the Parliament annexe and was presided over by NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The meeting was attended by leaders of Congress, NCP, TMC, CPI, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party, National Conference, AIMIM, RJD, AIUDF and others. Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, TMC's Abhishek Banerjee, DMK's Tiruchi Siva, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja were among those who participated in the meeting.
Five regional parties considered non aligned - TRS, BJD. AAP, SAD and YSRCP -- stayed away from today's meeting. These parties had also stayed away from the June 15 meeting convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that Yashwant Sinha is eminently qualified to uphold the secular and democratic fabric of India and regretted that the Modi government made no serious effort to have consensus on the presidential candidate.
"In the forthcoming Presidential elections, we have decided to elect a common candidate and stop the Modi government from doing further damage. At a subsequent meeting held today we have chosen Yashwant Sinha as a common candidate. We appeal to all political parties to vote for Yashwant Sinha," Ramesh said.
Sinha will file the nomination papers on June 27.
Mamata Banerjee congratulated Yashwant Sinha on becoming the consensus candidate for the presidential election. "A man of great honour and acumen, who would surely uphold the values that represent our great nation!" she tweeted.
Sinha's name came up after Pawar, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah opted out of the race.
Sinha had served in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. He quit BJP in 2018 and joined the Trinamool Congress three years later.
Venkaiah Naidu to be BJP's candidate?
Meanwhile, Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh and BJP president JP Nadda on Tuesday met M Venkaiah Naidu, sparking buzz about the ruling combine considering the Vice President for the top constitutional post.
Singh and Nadda have also been authorised by the party to speak to various parties, including those from the opposition, on the presidential poll.
The ruling combine has over 48 per cent vote share in the electoral college to pick the new President, and its candidate has a clear advantage over the opposition.
The 16th presidential election is scheduled for July 18. The result of the election will be announced on July 21. The term of outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind will expire on July 24.