Sharad Yadav and Yashwant Sinha are on the opposition list for presidential candidate

By Rahil Nora Chopra

The names of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, BSP Supremo Mayawati, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and a few others have been circulating in recent months as possible presidential candidates. Added to that list are the names of socialist veteran Sharad Yadav and TMC leader Yashwant Sinha, who are touted as leading opposition candidates. Opposition parties have begun their debate on drafting a common candidate to challenge the BJP-led Nationalist Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential candidate in the upcoming presidential election in July. According to sources, Congress could propose the name of Sharad Yadav while the Trinamool Congress could propose the name of Yashwant Sinha as their respective presidential candidate. However, the final call will be answered in the opposition meeting with all parties. According to political analysts, the victory of the joint candidate of the opposition parties in the presidential election will lay the groundwork for the “Mahagathbandhan” for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The opposition camp is counting on regional players to lead the consensus on the presidential candidate. The 2022 presidential election will be crucial for opposition unity. From the 2017 presidential election until now, the BJP has lost allies including Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam Party (TDP). It will be a numbers game that will test the unity of the opposition.


Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar led an all-party meeting on Wednesday, June 1, agreeing that his government would conduct a caste census rather than a census to avoid legal complications. Nitish Kumar said this activity would be called “jaati adharit ganana” (caste-based workforce), adding that it would be a broad survey that takes into account people of all religions and their socio-economic status. He also said: “All nine parties have unanimously decided to proceed with the caste census. We will soon have it approved by the (state) cabinet and we will allocate money for it. We will properly advertise the process and set a deadline for completion. From the BJP, State Party Chairman Sanjay Jaiswal and Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad attended the meeting. RJD opposition leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha, as well as AIMIM Bihar chief AkhtarulIman also attended the meeting. Tejashwi Yadav, who met with the CM last month to discuss the matter, said: “We have long been demanding a caste census. A nationwide census would have been ideal. But we are pleased that Bihar is holding its own caste census.” The JD(U), under the influence of the BJP, the larger coalition partner in the state, has tried to emphasize the contrast between the state and the BJP’s central units on the issue of caste count in Bihar, where politics has been dominated by OBCs, the caste count is seen as a clever representation of Nitish Kumar’s skillful political moves.


The former prime minister and Janta Dal (secular) supremo HD Deve Gowda is still not keen on retirement at the ripe old age of 90! DeveGowda has grand plans for the future to form a third front against the BJP and Congress ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. His meeting with the Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao seems to be the start of many such discussions. The TRS chief has already met several prime ministers and national leaders to form a non-congress and non-BJP Third Front. There is a joke that he can pass his throne to son KT Rama Rao to focus his full attention on national politics.


After the government of Bihar has talked to the caste census, the demand for the same has increased in Uttar Pradesh. The national president of the Samajwadi party, Akhilesh Yadav, is leading the charge, alleging that the BJP aims to be interested in the SC and OBC votes but not in their well-being. The issue came up during a debate in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, where Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of the House opposition, called for a caste-based census. According to him, each caste should be given a proper place in the power system based on their demographic ratio. The BJP is expected to resist his claim on the pretext that Akhilesh Yadav did nothing during his five years as prime minister and never asked for a caste count from the UPA government led by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav also met ailing party colleague Azam Khan at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi. “I wish you good health. Get well,” tweeted the party chief. The meeting comes days after former congress leader Kapil Sibal, with the support of the SP, submitted a nomination for Rajya Sabha polls. The ex-congress leader maintains friendly ties with both SP leaders. Sibal was the lawyer for Azam Khan and secured his release from Sitapur prison. However, Akhilesh Yadav has expressed no urgency to meet his ‘disdainful’ colleague. But political experts have hinted that Wednesday’s meeting is linked to the upcoming bypolls for the Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats.Azam Khan and Akhilesh Yadav have left these two seats after being elected in the UP meeting.The bypolls are the most prominent and prestigious fights for Akhilesh Yadav who is aware of Azam Khan’s influence on these two seats.


In the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Congress was only able to win two seats, but the party has shown great generosity in selecting three leaders from Uttar Pradesh to be sent to the Rajya Sabha from other states. The other surprise in the UP Congress’s Rajya Sabha list is the preference for the three names namely Imran Pratapgarhi, Pramod Tiwari and Rajeev Shukla. All three bear the stamp of approval of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. While Pratapgarhi is sent to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra, Pramod Tiwari has received the nod from Rajasthan and Rajeev Shukla of Chhattisgarh. Meanwhile, prominent party leader PawanKhera has been excluded from the eminent list. “Maybe there is something missing in my dedication,” Khera tweeted in Hindi, reacting to the exclusion. Shared Khera’s tweet, leader and popular actor Nagma tweeted that Sonia Gandhi was “personally committed to housing her” in the upper house when she joined Congress nearly two decades ago. Referring to Pratapgharhi’s nomination of Maharashtra, she asked, “Do I earn less?” In addition, Sirohi Congress MLA in Rajasthan, Sanyam Lodha, asked the party for reasonable clarification as to why no one from Rajasthan was nominated. (IPA service)

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