Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha will be the consensus presidential candidate of several opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party, the parties said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Opposition leaders, who gathered at the Parliament annexe for the meeting convened by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to decide on a consensus candidate for the presidential election, unanimously agreed on Sinha's name.
"We are happy to announce that we have unanimously chosen Yashwant Sinha as the common candidate of the opposition parties for the presidential election, which will take place on July 18, 2022," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said while reading out a joint statement after the meeting.
"In his long and distinguished career in public life, Shri Yashwant Sinha has served the nation in various capacities -- as an able administrator, accomplished parliamentarian and acclaimed Union minister of finance and external affairs. He is eminently qualified to uphold secular and democratic character of the Indian republic and its constitutional values," the statement also said.
Ramesh said the opposition parties have appealed to all parties to support Yashwant Sinha as president so the country could have a worthy 'Rashtrapati' elected unopposed.
"We regret the Modi government made no serious effort to have consensus on a presidential candidate," said Ramesh.
Reading out the joint statement, he added that the unity of opposition parties forged for presidential poll will be further consolidated in the months ahead.
Sinha's name came up after Pawar, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah opted out of the race.
The parties that attended the meeting included the Congress, NCP, TMC, Communist Party of India, CPI-Marxist, Samajwadi Party, National Conference, All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen, Rashtriya Janata Dal and All India United Democratic Front.
Congress's Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, TMC's Abhishek Banerjee, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's Tiruchi Siva, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja were among those who participated in the meeting.
Five regional parties considered non aligned -- Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Biju Janata Dal. Aam Aadmi Party, Shiromani Akali Dal and YSR Congress Party -- stayed away. These parties had also stayed away from the June 15 meeting convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.