Yashwant Sinha, a former Union Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government has been named the joint opposition candidate for President polls. The BJP is yet to announce its pick for the July polls. "In the forthcoming Presidential elections, we have decided to elect a common candidate and stop the Modi government from doing further damage. At a subsequent meeting held today we have chosen Yashwant Sinha as a common candidate. We appeal to all political parties to vote for Yashwant Sinha," said Jairam Ramesh, Congress's communication chief, reading from a joint statement by the opposition. Sinha's name came up after Pawar, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah opted out of the race. The decision to name the 84-year-old leader as the presidential candidate was announced by a meeting of the opposition leaders in Delhi.
The joint statement appealed to the BJP and its allies to support the candidature of Sinha so that the nation can have a "worthy Rashtrapati elected unopposed" A committee has been formed to steer Yashwant Sinha's campaign. The parties that attended the meeting include the Congress, NCP, TMC, CPI, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party, National Conference, AIMIM, RJD and AIUDF. Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, TMC's Abhishek Banerjee, DMK's Tiruchi Siva, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja were among those who participated in the meeting. "I am grateful to Mamataji for the honour and prestige she bestowed on me in the TMC. Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity. I am sure she approves of the step," Sinha tweeted. The process to elect a new president began on June 15. The last date for filing of nominations is June 29. The polls, if necessary, will be held on July 18 and the counting on July.