Presidential poll: Sharad Pawar takes control of Opposition campaign
Yashwant Sinha, the joint opposition candidate for the presidential poll, will visit during his campaign Jammu and Kashmir, which has no legislative assembly, as a mark of solidarity with its people, his campaign manager said on Wednesday.
The electoral college for the election of the President of India comprises elected members of the two houses of Parliament and legislative assemblies of states and union territories. The legislative assembly in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has not been elected yet.
"Even though Jammu and Kashmir does not have an assembly and people there are not participating in the presidential election, the idea is to make a political point that it is very unfortunate that the most important part of the Republic - J&K is deprived of the assembly.
"Sinha's visit to J&K is to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir," Sudheendra Kulkarni, politician and columnist, who is managing the former union minister's presidential campaign, told PTI.
Sinha will visit J&K on July 9, he said.
Meanwhile, senior leaders of opposition parties Wednesday met at the residence of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and took stock of Sinha's campaign.
Sources close to them said Pawar has assumed charge of the campaign strategy.
The leaders who attended the meeting included Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI's Bhalchandra Kango and A D Singh of the RJD. Kulkarni was also present..
Some other members of the campaign committee for the July 18 poll also joined them online.
It was decided at the meeting that Yashwant Sinha will visit Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and Gujarat on Friday, after which he would go to Jammu and Kashmir on July 9.
Kulkarni said he briefed the opposition leaders on Sinha's campaign which started from Kerala, followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh.
He asserted the response to the campaign so far has been excellent, especially in Telangana where Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) took out a big procession on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Hyderabad to attend the BJP's national executive meeting.
Kulkarni said Sinha will later move to other states, including Bihar and Jharkhand, where he hopes the Congress's allies will back his candidacy. Jharkhand's ruling JMM, a Congress ally, has not yet made up its mind about whom to support in the election.
Sinha's campaign will conclude with a visit to Mumbai on July 17, a day before the presidential election. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena combine was ousted from power in Maharashtra a few days back, in a setback to Sinha's presidential bid.
"A meeting of opposition parties to discuss about the presidential elections was held at my Delhi residence. In this meeting the campaign strategy was planned. We all are standing strongly with our candidate Shri Yashwant Sinha to fight for the issues faced by our country," Pawar said on Twitter, sharing pictures of the meeting.
Sinha is pitted against NDA's Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha, in whose favour the scales are heavily tilted given the strength of BJP and its allies in Parliament and state assemblies. Fence-sitter parties like Odisha's ruling BJD have also extended support to her.
Last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said opposition parties might have considered backing Murmu had the BJP held a discussion with them before fielding her.
Sinha was vice president of the Trinamool Congress before he was chosen as the joint opposition presidential nominee.