June 23, 2017

BJP panel meets Gandhi, Yechury, Advani, but takes no names

18 June 2017, 02:37 | Lena Norman

Sitaram Yechury

Sitaram Yechury India Tv

Singh and Naidu, who are part of a BJP panel to work out a consensus on the presidential nominee, met Yechury as part of its efforts to reach out to the opposition.

Singh and Naidu also met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence to discuss matters related to next month's presidential elections. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is the other member of the BJP panel formed by party chief Amit Shah a few days ago.

Although the two members of the BJP's Margdarshak Mandal were seen as possible contenders, sources said that Friday's meetings with the two were to seek their views on the party's presidential candidate. Whenever they decide on the name, they will seek our cooperation and come back.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi: Former Governor of West Bengal and Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi could be the Congress-led opposition's choice for the President's post.

At Friday's interaction, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi did not mince words in conveying to the two Union Ministers that she did not understand how the government could hope for a consensus without specific names. We were expecting them to disclose the name so that we can discuss it in our party and other opposition parties.

He also said that there was no need for the BJP to call for a consensus on the Presidential candidate by just saying that India needs a president. "Since no names were given from the government side and since no names are being given, there is no question of any discussion and cooperation", Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was present at the meeting, told reporters later. "Since the BJP panel of three ministers has consulted the wide spectrum of the political class on evolving consensus, it's now time to consult own allies", said a senior BJP functionary.

CPI national secretary D Raja, who was with Reddy at the meet, said the Left party too did not propose any names during the talks. Till the time any name comes, there is no question of discussion or support, ” he said.

A senior CPI (M) leader wondered if the RSS-BJP combine would let go the opportunity to install a president of their choice since "they are so close to" electing one to the post. "So, there is nothing to think about when they did not suggest any name", Yechury said.

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Sure of its victory, the BJP will also choose its candidate with an aim to break the new found unity in the Opposition.

While the names of Union Minister Thawarchand Gehlot (a Dalit), Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu or Karia Munda (tribal leaders) have been speculated for long on the basis of social considerations, there has been conjecture regarding getting someone from south India as the BJP tries to widen its footprint.

During the discussions, Yechury asked Naidu and Singh about the candidature of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. "We will naturally support the BJP in response to all the support we get from the Centre", said a senior minister, seeking anonymity.

Besides Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party had also indicated that it would be "difficult" for them to oppose any Maharashrtian candidate for the top post.

After meeting the two, Yechury virtually echoed the views of the Congress leaders and expressed dismay over the government not suggesting a name.

With suspense building up, posters of the BJP patriarch L K Advani "being hailed as the most suitable candidate for the Presidential election" was put up by a person whose credentials were not immediately known outside the 11, Ashoka Road headquarter of the saffron outfit, besides various other locations.

"We would have certainly thought about such a person, but they did not suggest any name". Naidu had recently stated that while "everything will be done in the true spirit of democracy" and that it was necessary for the other parties to "respect the mandate of the people which is with us".

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