The Samajwadi Party on Sunday told the BJP that a politician should be the nominee for President, two days after the CPI said the BJP should not field anyone with a “hard core” image. The BJP also reached out to the Trinamool Congress and the BJD as part of its consultations with Opposition parties, ostensibly to build consensus over who should be the next President of India.
Sources in the BJD said the party had not taken a decision on its stance on the Presidential election and is expected to do so by June 22 or 23. “The party has authorised its president (Naveen Patnaik) to take a decision,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb told The Indian Express. Leaders of Trinamool said the party was “waiting for a name” to take a final call on the matter.
“One of the ministers has reached out to the TMC and we have always maintained that we are for a consensus candidate. But we are waiting for the government to come out with a name. Without a name, what can we decide on,” said the TMC leader. BJP sources said Finance Minister Jaitley spoke to Trinamool and BJD leaders. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to Ramgopal Yadav and Naresh Agarwal of the Samajwadi Party and also met BJP ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan who assured him of the LJP’s support.
According to BJP sources, the Samajwadi leaders told Naidu that they preferred a politician as President, instead of an apolitical person. According to BJP sources, the top leaders will meet early next week and announce a candidate. Earlier, the party indicated the NDA’s candidate would file the nomination on June 23, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for a three-nation tour.
Naidu, Jaitley and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have been appointed by Shah to talk to all parties. But the leaders did not carry any name or panel of names to the parties they spoke to. In earlier meetings with leaders of the Congress and Left parties, Rajnath and Naidu told them that the BJP had not decided on a nominee and asked whether the Opposition had any names in mind.
The CPI specifically told the BJP leaders that the candidate should be “secular and liberal”, not a “hardcore” (read RSS) person. According to a senior BJP leader, even the ministers who were in consultation with the Opposition were not given any hint on the top leadership’s preference. However, a large section of BJP leaders believes that the candidate could be a political person.