BJP leaders to meet Sonia and others

NDA government will reach out to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders to develop consensus on the name of Presidential nominee. Union ministers and senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu will meet Congress President and Left leader Sitaram Yechury on Friday.

Meanwhile the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has for the first time said that its presidential candidate will file nomination on June 23. The filing of the nomination for the post began on Wednesday while the election, if required, will be held on July 17. Counting will take place on July 20.

The two senior BJP leaders have reportedly briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the progress in their parleys on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Venkaiah Naidu had said that BJP will talk to all political parties in the “true spirit of democracy” to evolve consensus on the presidential nominee. However, he appealed to the opposition parties to go by the “mandate of the people which is for this government”. In other words, he advised them to be agreeable with the NDA’s choice for the top position.

Venkaiah Naidu, Rajnath and Arun Jaitley form the BJP’s three-member committee constituted recently by BJP President Amit Shah to consult their allies as well as the Opposition parties.

Meanwhile 10 members Opposition sub-group met on Wednesday in the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Opposition parties are hoping to zero in on a “mutually acceptable” presidential candidate with the ruling dispensation. If that does not happen, it is expected to put up a united candidate against the official NDA nominee.

Neither ruling party nor the Opposition has declared their choice for the post. However reports indicate that NDA may nominate Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan or Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu. Earlier, BJP veteran leader LK Advani and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s names were also discussed as possible candidates.

The Opposition is reported to have shortlisted former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as its likely candidates.