BJP reaches out to Opposition over next President, NDA choice by June 23

Presidential election: Venkaiah, Rajnath may speak to Sonia Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury tomorrow

Written by Manoj CG , Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: June 15, 2017 8:34 am
presidential election, presidential election 2017, bjp, congress, Presidential election: Opposition leaders (from left) Ghulam Nabi Azad, Lalu Prasad, Sitaram Yechury, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ram Gopal Yadav meet in New Delhi on Wednesday. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

With the Election Commission notifying the Presidential election, and hours before the Opposition met to discuss its candidates, the ruling BJP Wednesday reached out to the Congress, CPM and other parties to begin a consultation exercise on the issue. Sources said that Union I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu sent word to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and contacted CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury to initiate consultations. Naidu also spoke to NCP’s Praful Patel and BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra to finalise meetings with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and BSP leader Mayawati.

BJP sources indicated that the NDA candidate will file the nomination papers on June 23 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be present — he will leave for the US on June 24. The Opposition is expected to announce its joint candidate after June 20, with the filing of nominations slated to take place around June 24-25. The nomination process will end on June 28. Also Read: When is Presidential election? Here is all you need to know

According to sources, the BJP’s outreach will be helmed by Naidu and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh — both met Wednesday to chalk out a schedule for meeting Opposition leaders following a gathering of the BJP’s core group.

Naidu and Singh are expected to meet Congress president Gandhi and Yechury Friday.

Singh is expected to speak to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Sources said the BJP wanted Singh to make use of his “warm ties” with Banerjee, who is unhappy with the party over its political moves in West Bengal.

Naidu also spoke to PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss and All India NR Congress leader N Rangaswamy. Party sources said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is currently in South Korea, will hold talks with the socialist parties.

At the Opposition meeting, sources said, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Yechury argued that they should field a candidate at any cost as it was an “ideological and political fight” against the BJP.

Sources said some leaders wanted to wait for consultations with the government, but Yechury pointed out that this was “not the understanding” at the previous Opposition meeting on the issue. Prasad told the meeting that there cannot be any “ideological compromise” with the BJP, said sources.

The sense in the Opposition camp is that the government is reaching out “for the sake of consultation” and as a “mere formality”. But BJP leaders, sources said, have assessed that if there is a contest, some of the parties “with the Opposition currently” could extend their support to the NDA’s candidate.

Sources said Opposition leaders have also sensed possible attempts by the BJP to divide them. “Let’s see what their plan is…it could also be a delaying tactic. Anyway, we are prepared,” said a senior Opposition leader.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, at whose Parliament chamber the 10-member Opposition sub-committee met Wednesday, said that since the ruling party has reached out, “it is impossible to select the final candidate now”.

”The nitty-gritty or the names were not discussed today. The sub-committee will meet again in the next few days. By then, the ruling party would have spoken to Opposition parties,” Azad said.

Asked about BJP ministers meeting Opposition leaders separately, Azad said that “all Opposition parties are totally united”.

”Naturally, the government is going to talk to Opposition leaders separately. They are not going to talk to them collectively… We are going to have a meeting again,” he said.

NCP’s Patel said, “Venkaiah Naidu spoke to me and said that they would like to meet Sharad Pawar in the next few days to discuss the way forward in the Presidential election. No name has been proposed. We will await for their communication,” Patel said.

Apart from Azad, Prasad, Yechury and Patel, the Opposition panel includes Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, TMC’s Derek O Brien, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra and DMK’s Alandur R S Bharthi.

The Opposition has already reached out to Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi, with sources confirming that he has agreed to be its joint candidate. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is also being considered while JD(U)’s Yadav is said to be interested, too.

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  1. U
    Usa123
    Jun 16, 2017 at 8:19 am
    Anti national parties and leaders accusing army and supporting terrorists kashmiri, jnu separatists have no moral to elect president of India. Shameful for these anti nationals.
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    1. R
      Ram
      Jun 16, 2017 at 4:28 am
      India had great nationalists like Babu Rajendra Prasad, Abdual Kalam or intellectual giants like Dr. S Radhakrishnan as presidents in teh past. With BJP in control, definately it will be some strong nationalist who will be president not some light weight like SOnia/Yechury want with only qualification being 'not nationalist' So anyone CPM/Yechury strongly oppose will be a great president!
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      1. T
        Tats
        Jun 15, 2017 at 9:32 pm
        How about E.Sridharan, the Metro Man?
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        1. T
          Tats
          Jun 15, 2017 at 9:25 pm
          Gopal Krishna Gandhi is my favourite choice as well. Lets see what happens..
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          1. R
            rocky
            Jun 15, 2017 at 1:13 pm
            I Support Chokkalinga Nadar view. Lets think about the name of our former PM Manmohan Singh for the top post. He might be a right candidate for the Job. But I doubt his candidature will support by the ruling party.
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            1. T
              Tats
              Jun 15, 2017 at 9:26 pm
              I doubt it would even be supported by the Opposition party. But I do think he is a right person for the post.
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              1. R
                Ram
                Jun 16, 2017 at 4:14 am
                Then Rastrapati Bhavan files have to be cleared by 10 Janpat before he puts his stamp, if already Soniaji has not done for him! corrupt Congress /anti-national comies are dead and only thing remaining is official burial, as Mahatma wanted in 1947 itself!
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                  Vasudevan Venugopal
                  Jun 16, 2017 at 8:16 am
                  Rocky: I agree. Our former PM Shri Manmohan Singh is the right choice for the top post.
                  Reply
                2. S
                  Simpleton
                  Jun 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm
                  President should be a scientist like APJ Kalam who has contributed to advancement of technology and pride of India. He / she should be above politics and respectable by all Indians (like Kalam). Caste / religion / community / region / language/ colour / race - no bar.
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                  1. M
                    Malkit Singh Rehnsi
                    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:20 pm
                    Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the rss is expected to be imposed as President of India as senior old leaders are facing trial in CBI court in Lucknow. The choice of the RSS and BJP to impose RSS Ideology through the office of the President. Our opposition parties are very week and they are not in a position to face these Hindu communal organizations/
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                    1. T
                      Tats
                      Jun 15, 2017 at 9:27 pm
                      If BJP even dares to present such a candidate, I can assure you, millions will take to the streets to oppose him..
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Ram
                        Jun 16, 2017 at 4:22 am
                        RSS chief position is most powerful position in India today, without whose approval no one can become PM/CM/minister in NDA, so no point in lowering his position by making him a ceremonial head. Today RSS head has more moral/organizational clout than JP or Mahatma ever had in their times. RSS has more loftier agenda than just controlling a government/office! It is to bring back great glorious days of sanatana dharma culture not just within India but all over the world. Spread of Yoga/meditation is only first phase of sanatana dharma acceptance by civilized world populations.
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                        Dr.Deshpande
                        Jun 15, 2017 at 11:57 am
                        Why President of India should not be selected by all Indians as we have lost faith on almost all the politicians. They are more interested in party politics . Indian Democracy is far the people, buy the people and off the people. Shri Modiji is trying to do his best to help all , though his style of functioning is unusual. Some of the politicians are corrupt, come out from jail, some have misused powers - and these people are going to decide who will take a decision on Who will be the next President of India without consulting us!! Good sense will prevail. Let us hope so. Professor Ashok Deshpande PhD in Engineering
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