BJP, Opposition go into huddle over Prez choice
The BJP on Wednesday upped the ante in its efforts to garner maximum support for its presidential candidate with the three-member party panel speaking to a number of allies as well as opposition parties, amid indication that its nominee will file nomination next week.
Party sources have indicated that the NDA candidate for the top constitutional post is likely to file his nomination before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US on June 25.
They ruled out filing of nomination by its candidate this week as the consultation process will take more time with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu, two members of the BJP panel, scheduled to meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday as they work to evolve a consensus.
They are likely to meet Left leaders following the meeting with Gandhi.
It is learnt that the ruling coalition's candidate will file their nomination on June 23. Highly placed sources added that senior BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh - part of the BJP's Presidential poll panel with Arun Jaitley - briefed PM Modi about the poll at a meeting on Wednesday with other party top brass.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Naidu were appointed by BJP president Amit Shah on June 12 to hold talks with opposition parties and allies in a bid to select a consensus candidate for the poll.
The notification for the July 17 polls was issued on Wednesday, beginning the nomination process for the election. The last date for filing papers is June 28.
Naidu on Wednesday spoke to Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, N Rangaswamy of the All India NR Congress, Satish Mishra of the BSP and Praful Patel of the NCP, sources said. He will also reach out to most of the regional outfits from South India.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a member of the panel, will sound out leaders such as Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, while Singh may confer with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
The home minister is also likely to speak to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Amid consultation among political parties, the BJP has given little indication of its choice for the top post.
Opposition leaders on Wednesday met to chalk out a strategy for the upcoming presidential poll but no names were discussed in the first round of talks of a nine- party sub-group set up for the purpose, members said.
10 opposition leaders met in the Parliament chamber of the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The leaders including Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge from the Congress, JD-U's Sharad Yadav, RJD's Lalu Prasad, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and NCP's Praful Patel. Derek O'Brien of the TMC, R S Bharathi of the DMK, Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP and Satish Chandra Misra from the BSP were also present at the 10 -member group's meeting.
Azad said: "A sub-committee was formed in which leaders of nine parties were included, as there was a need for a smaller committee," he said.
This was the first meeting of the group on Wednesday.
"The nitty gritty details were not discussed. No names have been short-listed yet," he said after the 30-minute meeting.
"The process has just started. In such conditions, the selection of a final candidate is impossible." he added.