Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha will be the consensus presidential candidate of several opposition parties, including the Congress, the TMC 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 NCP 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 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 had joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) afer he resigned from the BJP in 2018 following difference of opinion with its leadership.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sinha said he would "step aside" from the TMC to work for the larger national cause of opposition unity, amid indications that he was being considered as the opposition's joint candidate for the presidential elections.
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, 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.
Five regional parties which are considered non aligned - TRS, BJD. AAP, SAD and YSRCP -- stayed away. These parties had also stayed away from the June 15 meeting convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.