Ahead of an Opposition parties’ meeting called by TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Miniter Mamata Banerjee, leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said that candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections cannot be elected without the Congress.

Banerjee has on Wednesday called a meeting to forge a consensus for fielding a joint candidate against the NDA in the Presidential election. Aam Aadmi Party has decided to skip the meeting, sources said today.

Speaking to ANI today on this development, Kharge said, “Electing a candidate (for the upcoming Presidential elections) can’t happen without Congress as we have nearly 50 per cent votes. But, we will still go to the meeting to fight together… as we don’t want to break the unity. We want to fight against BJP.”

Kharge further said, “Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and many big leaders aren’t participating. We want unity and a unanimous (Presidential) candidate.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Banerjee met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at his residence in Mumbai separately to try and convince him to be the common opposition candidate for the top constitutional post. Pawar, however, has turned down the proposal, sources in the Opposition camp said.

The West Bengal Chief Minister is in the national capital for the meeting aimed to explore the possibility of formulating a common strategy with other Opposition parties for the Presidential polls.

Several Opposition leaders will take part in the meeting called on Wednesday by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee to discuss Presidential polls to put up a united fight against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

The Presidential elections will take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21.

Other leaders who would take part in the meeting include former minister HD Deve Gowda and his son and Janata Dal (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti.
MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) will be represented by TR Baalu while Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai will attend the meeting. Samajwadi Party and National Conference will also attend the meeting.

Sources said Congress will also participate in the meeting to be held at the Constitution Club. Congress leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, and Randeep Singh Surjewala are likely to attend the meeting. Banerjee has also sent an invitation to former BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal but it is unlikely to attend the meeting.

Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja on Tuesday said that Left parties are likely to attend the meeting. CPI-M and other Left parties are rivals of the ruling TMC in Bengal.

Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal, which has been invited, is unlikely to attend the meeting.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is likely to send a representative even as party leader K Chandrashekar Rao is keen to forge an anti-BJP alliance. KCR is likely to float a new political party at the national level as part of efforts to play a key role in national politics soon.

Banerjee had earlier written a letter to 22 leaders, including Left parties, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and chief ministers of opposition-ruled states. (ANI)