BJD Skips Mamata Banerjee-Convened Opposition On President Polls

Bhubaneswar: The BJD on Wednesday skipped the meeting of opposition parties convened by Mamata Banerjee to build consensus on fielding a joint candidate against the NDA in the presidential election.

Leaders of 17 parties – TMC, Congress, CPI, CPI(M), CPIML, RSP, Shiv Sena, NCP, RJD, SP, National Conference, PDP, JD(S), DMK, RLD, IUML and JMM – are participating in the meeting in New Delhi.  NCP’s Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala, 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 are among the prominent leaders in attendance.

A BJD leader, requesting anonymity, said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik decided to stay away from the meeting taking into account “all aspects and keeping the interest of Odisha at the forefront”.

Despite its equidistant policy, the BJD had extended support to BJP’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind in 2017, leading to talks about a tacit understanding between the parties that are rivals in the state. It is likely to go with an NDA-supported candidate again, party sources said.

BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty told Odisha Bytes that the party president Naveen will take an “appropriate decision at the appropriate time”.

The NDA has more than 48 per cent of the votes in the electoral college that would elect the 16th President of India. With the support of either BJD (2.85 per cent votes) or YSR Congress Party (4 per cent), which also skipped the meeting, the BJP-led alliance will sail through comfortably.

Also Read: President Elections In July: BJD May Play Crucial Role; Know Why

Notably, Naveen met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 30 in New Delhi. The meeting at the South Block lasted for about 30 minutes.

Last week, Mamata wrote to 22 non-BJP leaders, including Naveen, to chalk out a joint strategy for the polls. The presidential election will be held on July 18, six days before President Ram Nath Kovind’s term ends. Votes will be counted on July 21.

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