Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha is the presidential candidate of 13 Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, and the Samajwadi Party, which met in Delhi on Tuesday, 21 June.
"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," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, reading out the joint statement of the various parties.
"In his long and distinguished career in public life, Shri Yashwant Sinha has served the nation in various capacities – as an able administrator, accomplished parliamentarian and acclaimed Union Minister of Finance and External Affairs. He is eminently qualified to uphold secular and democratic character of the Indian Republic and its Constitutional values."Joint Statement
"We regret that the Modi government made no serious efforts to have consensus on a presidential candidate," said Ramesh, adding that the unity of Opposition parties forged for the presidential poll will be further consolidated in the months ahead.
Opposition leaders from various parties had gathered at the parliament annex earlier in the day for the meeting convened by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to decide on a common candidate.
The parties that attended the meeting included the Congress, NCP, TMC, CPI, CPI(M), Samajwadi Party, National Conference, AIMIM, RJD, and AIUDF. The Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, TMC's Abhishek Banerjee, 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 – did not attend.
'Man of Great Honour & Acumen': Mamata Banerjee Congratulates Yashwant Sinha
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had called a meeting of Opposition parties over the presidential poll last week, congratulated Yashwant Sinha.
"I would like to congratulate Shri Yashwant Sinha on becoming the consensus candidate, supported by all progressive opposition parties, for the upcoming Presidential Election. A man of great honour and acumen, who would surely uphold the values that represent our great nation!" he said.
TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee also congratulated Sinha.
"Our stand is that we would back the decision collectively made by all the opposition parties. As Sonia Gandhi has rightly noted, it is imperative to keep the Opposition united in this day and age. We must not break the unity," Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge was quoted as saying by ANI.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar announced that Sinha's nomination for the presidential elections will be filed on 27 June at 11.30 am.
Yashwant Sinha's Resignation From TMC Ahead of Meet
Ahead of the meeting, senior politician Yashwant Sinha announced on Tuesday morning that he had quit the TMC, hinting that he might be running for president.
"Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity," he tweeted.
Voting for the next president will be held on 18 July, while the counting of votes will be held on 21 July, as per the Election Commissi,on.
Previously, Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, and Gopalkrishna Gandhi had declined to be the Opposition's presidential candidate.