The Shiv Sena on Friday said people may ask how the Opposition will give a capable prime minister if it cannot field a strong candidate for the upcoming presidential polls, stressing that it needs to take the elections for the next president seriously.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the party said Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, the “regular names that crop up during the presidential polls”, don’t have the personality or heft to make it a tightly-contested battle.
On the other hand, the government is not also likely to come up with a “bright” candidate, the party said, adding that five years back, two-three people shortlisted President Ram Nath Kovind’s name and even this year they are likely to do the same.
The term of president Kovind ends on July 24 and an election to find his successor is scheduled to be held on July 18. The process to file nominations for the presidential polls began on Wednesday.
Seventeen opposition parties, including the Congress, DMK, NCP and Samajwadi Party, attended the crucial meeting in Delhi on June 15, convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to build a consensus on fielding a joint candidate against the BJP-led NDA in the presidential elections.
Leaders of these parties also urged NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to be their joint candidate for the presidential election, but the veteran leader declined the offer at the meeting.
A second meeting of the opposition parties will be convened by Pawar in Mumbai on June 20 or 21, sources said.
“If not Pawar, then who? Had the work to find answers to this question done six months back, then that would have displayed the Opposition’s seriousness for this election,” the party said.
“If the Opposition cannot field a strong candidate for the presidential polls, then how can it give a capable prime minister in 2024. This question will come to people’s mind,” it said.
The party said if the numbers add up for an opposition prime minister in 2024, then there will be “many grooms in the queue”, but they avoid the presidential polls.
It said according to Mamata Banerjee, the presidential polls is the warm up contest for the 2024 general elections.
“The Opposition must take it (the presidential polls contest) seriously,” it said.
The party said the president is not a mere rubber stamp, but the protector of the Constitution and custodian of the judiciary.
“The Parliament, the press, the judiciary and the administration are kneeling before those in power. There is a rise in communal fissures in the country. In such a case, can the president keep quiet? But the president does not take a stand on this. This is dangerous for the integrity of the country,” the editorial said without taking Kovind’s name.
The party said the president is the Supreme Commander of the three armed forces, head of the judiciary and the one occupying the chair has to give direction to the country, but for past some time, he has not been been able to do anything as per his will.