17 parties attend opposition meeting on presidential poll; AAP, TRS, BJD skip

New Delhi: A crucial meeting of opposition parties convened by Mamata Banerjee to build consensus on fielding a joint candidate against the NDA in the presidential election began here on Wednesday with leaders of at least 17 parties in attendance.

Leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, NCP, DMK, RJD and the Left parties attended the meeting called by the Trinamool Congress supremo, while the AAP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Odisha’s ruling BJD skipped it.

Leaders of Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), National Conference, PDP, JD(S), RSP, IUML, RLD and the JMM attended the meeting, which took place on a day the nomination for the presidential election began.

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Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel of the NCP, Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala of the Congress, H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), Akhilesh Yadav of the SP, Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference were among the prominent leaders in the meeting.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) skipped the meeting at the Constitution Club in the national capital, besides the Aam Aadmi Party, TRS and the BJD.

The meeting began at 3 pm.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last week invited leaders of 19 political parties, including seven chief ministers, for a meeting in the national capital to produce a confluence of opposition voices for the election on July 18.

A day ahead of the meeting, Banerjee and Left party leaders met NCP chief Sharad Pawar at his residence separately to try and convince him to be the common opposition candidate for the top constitutional post.

With numbers on its side — the ruling NDA has about half the votes of the electoral college — and the possible support of fence-sitters like the BJD, AIADMK and YSRCP, the NDA candidate will likely sail through the contest.

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