Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha was on Tuesday named as the Opposition parties’ candidate for the presidential elections, scheduled to be held next month, ANI reported.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh made the announcement after Opposition leaders held a meeting in Delhi.

Members of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India, CPI-Marxist, Samajwadi Party, National Conference, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the All India United Democratic Front attended the meeting.

“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,” Ramesh read a joint statement of the Opposition parties.

The Opposition also urged all the parties to elect Sinha unopposed so that the country could have a “worthy rashtrapati”, PTI reported.

“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,” the joint statement read. “He is eminently qualified to uphold secular and democratic character of the Indian Republic and its Constitutional values.”

Ramesh accused the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of not making an effort to decide about the next president.

Sinha was chosen after Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi declined to run for the polls as the common candidate of 13 Opposition parties.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sinha had resigned as a Trinamool Congress member. He had joined the party in March last year.

Sinha’s announcement had come amid reports that the Opposition may name him as its candidate for the post of president.

“Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater Opposition unity,” Sinha wrote in a tweet.

A former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Sinha first became India’s finance minister in November 1990 and stayed in office till June 1991, under Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. His second tenure at the finance ministry was between December 1998 and July 2002 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. From then to May 2004, he served as India’s foreign minister.

He turned a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi regime and criticised the government on a number of contentious matters like the Citizenship Amendment Act, abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the Rafale fighter jet deal.

The votes for the presidential election will be counted on July 21. The last date for filing nominations is June 29.

The president is elected by the members of the electoral college consisting of MPs from both Houses of Parliament and MLAs of all states, including the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.