Sinha, who had been with the BJP for several years, has served as Union Finance minister twice, including once in the Vajpayee cabinet.

File photo of Yashwant SinhaFile photo of Yashwant Sinha: PTI
news Politics Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 16:48

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha will be the consensus presidential candidate of several opposition parties, including the Congress, the TMC and the Samajwadi Party, the parties said in a joint statement on Tuesday, June 21.  Opposition leaders, who gathered at the Parliament annexe for the meeting convened by NCP chief Sharad Pawar to decide on a consensus candidate for the presidential election, unanimously agreed on Sinha's name.

"We are happy to announce that we have unanimously chosen Yashwant Sinha as the common candidate of the opposition parties for the presidential election, which will take place on July 18, 2022," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said while reading out a joint statement after the meeting.

Sinha, who had been with the BJP for several years, had served as Union Finance minister twice —- once in the Chandra Sekhar cabinet in 1990 and then again in the Vajpayee ministry. He also held the portfolio of the External Affairs ministry in the Vajpayee cabinet. He is known to be a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"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 the secular and democratic character of the Indian Republic and its Constitutional values," the statement also said.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the opposition parties were going to file the nomination for the Presidential elections on June 27 at 11.30 am. Ramesh said the opposition parties have appealed to all parties to support Yashwant Sinha as president so the country could have a worthy 'rashtrapati' elected unopposed. "We regret that the Modi government made no serious effort to have consensus on a presidential candidate," said Ramesh. Reading out the joint statement, he added that the unity of opposition parties forged for the presidential poll will be further consolidated in the months ahead.

Sinha's name came up after Pawar, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah opted out of the race. The parties that attended the meeting included the Congress, NCP, TMC, CPI, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party, National Conference, AIMIM, RJD and AIUDF. 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. These parties had also stayed away from the June 15 meeting convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The process to elect a new President began on June 15. The last date for filing nominations is June 29. The polls, if necessary, will be held on July 18 and the counting on July 21.

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