'Won't Be Opposition Candidate for Presidential Polls': NCP Chief Sharad Pawar

His statement came a day after the Maharashtra Congress and Shiv Sena expressed support for his candidature.

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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, 13 June, denied at a party meeting that he would be the Opposition's candidate for the president's post, ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, reports said.

Elections for the next President of India will be held on 18 July, and counting, if required, will be held three days after. President Ram Nath Kovind's term is set to end on 24 July.

Pawar's denial comes amid speculations that he could be the Opposition-backed candidate for the polls.

"I am not in the race, I will not be opposition candidate for the President's post," the 81-year-old former Union minister and Maharashtra chief minister told the gathering, reported The Times of India.

Pawar is reportedly not confident about the Opposition's ability to get the adequate numbers, sources told NDTV. The BJP has a whopping 300-member presence in the Lok Sabha.


"He is not inclined to contest a losing battle," they said.

Support for Pawar

His statement came a day after NCP allies – the Congress and Shiv Sena – expressed support for his candidature and AAP's Sanjay Singh called him on Sunday, 12 June. On Thursday, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge met Pawar in Mumbai, with a message from party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole had also announced the party's support for Pawar if he were to contest.

The Congress is pushing for a joint Opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential elections and has conveyed its support to Sharad Pawar.

A meeting to discuss the Opposition's candidate, convened by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, is slated to be held in Delhi on Wednesday, 15 June.

An NCP source told The Times of India that Ghulam Nabi Azad could be a probable choice.

What About the BJP?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, has asked party chief JP Nadda and Union Minister Rajnath Singh to arrive at a consensus on a candidate.

Should the BJP fail to reach a consensus, the party will gear up for an election, sources told NDTV. The BJP and its allies are 13,000 votes short of the majority mark.

The BJP, in 2017, had nominated Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu for the post, after which Venkaiah Naidu became NDA's vice-presidential candidate.


How Do the Presidential Elections Work?

The upcoming presidential elections will have 4,809 electors, comprising 4,033 members of legislative assemblies and 776 members of parliament.

Of the MPs, 233 are Rajya Sabha members and 543 are from the Lok Sabha.

Further, no elector can subscribe, whether as proposer or as seconder, more than one nomination paper in an election.

In case of a violation, the elector's signature will be invalidated on all nomination papers except the first one that is delivered.

(With inputs from NDTV and Times of India.)

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