NEW DELHI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday set the ball rolling for the coming Presidential election by naming three of its top ministers to hold consultations with its NDA allies as well as opposition parties for evolving a consensus on the candidate who would be the country’s next President.
The BJP President Amit Shah names a panel of three senior Union Ministers — Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu — to evolve a consensus for the Presidential elections.
The presidential election, if necessary, will be held on July 17, as announced by the Election Commission. The last date of nomination is June 28 and the counting of votes is to be taken up on July 20.
Last month, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi had held a luncheon meeting of opposition parties but the JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar skipped it and attended the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lunch the next day for the visiting Malaysian premier. After a meeting of 17 Opposition parties, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had said, “We want a candidate who can steadfastly uphold constitutional values”.
While opposition has indicated that it was for the ruling party to initiate the move for consensus, the BJP has maintained that it is comfortably placed to have its own candidate as the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
From the opposition side, former Governor of West Bengal Gopal Krishna Gandhi and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s names have been doing the rounds while from the BJP side Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan are stated to be possible candidates.