On 9/6/2/2022 Election Commission announced the schedule for election of President of India. Sonia Gandhi had spoken to Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Sitaram Yechury about a common candidate from Opposition. She had deputed Mallikarjun Kharge as point person for talks. Kharge had gone to Bombay and met Sharad Pawar.
On 11/6/2022 Mamata wrote to 22 CMs and leaders and invited them for a meeting in Delhi on 15/6/2022 for talks on a common candidate. Sonia was one of the 22. This was a signal to Sonia that Mamata will not play second fiddle to her. This upset Congress. They pointed out that Sonia had started the process of consultation after talking to Mamata, Pawar and some other Opposition leaders.
ED had summoned Sonia in National Herald case on 8/6/2022. Sonia got Corona. She isolated herself. Some days later she was admitted to Ganga Ram Hospital. Next date to appear is 23/6/2022.
On 12/6/2022 AAP’s Sanjay Singh flew to Bombay and met Pawar. AAP was ready to support Pawar as candidate. For a party that started against corruption and wanted Pawar as one of 15 ministers sacked for corruption, it was a new low.
On 14/6/2022 Mamata met Pawar in Delhi. Pawar said he does not want to contest. Pawar does not want to contest a losing election. Rarely he loses an election. One was to Jagmohan Dalmiya for the post of BCCI President. Pawar does not want CBI, ED and Income Tax Department after him.
Yashwant Sinha is said to be Mamata’s choice. He was in BJP for many years. Before that he was in Janata Dal. He was Finance Minister and Foreign Minister.
AAP, BJP, Congress, DMK, TMC and YSRCP can each field a Presidential candidate as each has 100 electors needed; 50 as proposers and 50 as seconders.
After Mamata became West Bengal CM, she used to meet Sonia every time she came to Delhi. In one meeting Rahul Gandhi dropped in unannounced and unexpected. After that Mamata did not want to meet Sonia. Next time she came to Delhi, during a press conference one journalist asked her about meeting Sonia. She asked “Is it a constitutional requirement?”
Mamata has PM ambition. Congress sees Rahul Gandhi as next PM.
Rahul Gandhi had ED summons. On 15/6/2022 he attended ED third day in succession.
Nitish Kumar wants to be President. His supporters talk of him as suitable person. His party JD (U) does not have enough electors. Last time he was part of UPA and Congress-RJD-JD(U) alliance in Bihar. Sonia wanted Gopalkrishna Gandhi as candidate. Nitish undercut her by proposing Ram Nath Kovind who was Governor of Bihar and Dalit as candidate. BJP agreed. UPA went for a Dalit candidate and fielded Meira Kumar. Nitish does not have much support.
AAP, TMC and TRS have conflicting ambitions. AAP and TMC were rivals in Goa. AAP wants to expand in Telangana and West Bengal. TRS wants to expand outside Telangana under a different name. TMC’s efforts outside West Bengal did not have much success.
Leaders of Congress, CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML), DMK, IUML, JD (S), JMM, NC, NCP, PDP, RJD, RLD, SP and Shiv Sena attended the meeting. Leaders of AAP, BJD, SAD and TRS did not attend. Leaders of AIMIM, BSP and YSRCP were not invited. Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Singh Surjewala represented Congress. Kharge said electing a candidate can not happen without Congress as they have 50% votes. But they attend the meeting not to break the unity and want to defeat BJP.
Opposition parties agreed to field a joint candidate for Presidential election. Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi emerged as candidates.