Pawar ready, but wants to see numbers first: NCP

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Sharad Pawar may be the opposition's consensus candidate in the election for President of India, his party has said that Pawar will take a decision "only if the opposition parties have the numbers for a victory".

New Delhi: Amid speculation that former union minister Sharad Pawar may be the opposition's consensus candidate in the election for President of India, his party has said that Pawar will take a decision "only if the opposition parties have the numbers for a victory".

The comments came on the eve of a meeting of the opposition convened by West Bengal Mamata Banerjee in Delhi on June 15 to discuss a joint strategy for next month's presidential polls. Ms Banerjee met Pawar in Delhi on Tuesday, according to NDTV report.

In Mumbai, Chhagan Bhujbal, senior leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, said, "No doubt, if Pawar saheb becomes President of India, every Marathi person's chest will swell with pride. But the question is: Do we have the required numbers?"

Pawar, meanwhile, also met Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, heads of the CPM and CPI respectively, in Delhi. Mr Raja later said Sharad Pawar did not seem enthused by the idea of becoming a candidate, "Our understanding is that he is not keen. He said he has many political commitments."

Significantly, Raja also said that Left parties will attend Mamata Banerjee's June 15 meeting. The Left and Trinamool Congress are sworn enemies particularly in West Bengal. But Mr Raja said, "We are keen on unity of opposition parties, so we will go."

In Mumbai, Chhagan Bhujbal said Pawar's name is being suggested by Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party, Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress, and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, "which makes us happy". "But he has not lost any election in his life. So, if the required numbers are there, he will take a decision after discussions with senior leaders of our party," added Bhujbal, who is a minister in the Maharashtra coalition government of NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress.

The ruling coalition led by BJP does not have the numbers for a sure-shot victory.

In that light, the June 15 meeting will see attendance by the largest opposition party Congress, too, which has deputed senior leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The presidential poll is based on an electoral college comprising votes of MLAs and MPs. Vote value of each MLA depends on the population of the state and the number of assembly seats. Total strength of the electoral college, thus, is 10,86,431. A candidate with more than 50 per cent votes wins.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is 13,000 votes short.

In 2017, too, the NDA did not have the required numbers, but it got support from Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), YSR Congress and Biju Janata Dal, for Mr Kovind against Congress-led opposition's candidate Meira Kumar.

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