With President Ram Nath Kovind’s term coming to an end on July 24, the Election Commission of India announced on Thursday that voting will take place on July 18 and the votes will be counted on July 21. The ruling BJP-led NDA and the opposition parties have yet to announce their candidates.
It is a foregone conclusion that the NDA’s nominee, who has around 48% of the vote in the electoral college, will win the Presidential election with the help of some friendly parties like Odisha’s BJD and Andhra Pradesh’s YSRCP. The opposition, on the other hand, is working hard to ensure a rematch with the previous election.
As part of her efforts to find a consensus candidate, Congress President Sonia Gandhi spoke with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. She has already spoken with other leaders, including CPM leader Sitaram Yechury. Gandhi reportedly told the leaders that Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, would be her party’s election point person.
According to sources in the Opposition camp, talks are underway among like-minded parties to find a consensus candidate. However, unlike in 2017, the opposition is deeply divided. “There will undoubtedly be a competition. And we’ll put forward a candidate who is acceptable to everyone,” a senior Opposition leader said. Top leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena, and the Left parties, according to sources, have exchanged notes. There has yet to be a formal meeting scheduled.
At Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, and Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Dharmendra Sharma held a press conference to announce the Presidential election schedule.
The AAP, which is in power in Punjab and Delhi, is in a similar situation. The AAP has been at odds with the Congress for nearly a year, exchanging barbs and attacks on a daily basis. It doesn’t have much of a choice because the party is also vehemently opposed to the BJP. The TRS of K Chandrashekar Rao is also at odds with the Congress. The TMC and the Left bloc are at odds as well.