BJP Will Reach out to Opposition for Picking President, Says Venkaiah Naidu

While the minister said “everything will be done in the true spirit of democracy,” he added that it was necessary for the other parties to “respect the mandate of the people which is with us”.

New Delhi: BJP president Amit Shah on Monday, June 12, formed a three-member committee comprising union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu to hold consultations with other political parties for deciding the new presidential candidate and for devising a strategy for the polls.

A day later, however, Naidu dropped hints that while the BJP would be eager to reach out to “all the parties,” it would want them to “respect the mandate” which, as per him, is in its favour at the moment.

Addressing the media at a presentation organised to showcase the work done by three ministries under him, Naidu, who also holds the charge of information and broadcasting minister, said he had spoken to Shah, Jaitley and Singh regarding the issue and it has been decided that they would approach all the political parties to seek their support and help.

Respect the mandate

As for the BJP, he said, “it was the responsibility of the ruling party to take everyone on board” for arriving at a consensus.

“Everything will be done in the true spirit of democracy” to arrive at a name, he said, adding that it was also incumbent on the other parties to “respect the mandate of the people which is with us”.

With the Election Commission announcement last week that the presidential polls will be conducted on July 17, hectic parleys had begun among the political parties on the issue. From the manner in which both the BJP and the opposition have positioned themselves, a consensus candidate for both the posts looks unlikely.

Left forging opposition unity

Recently, when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury met Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, it has been learnt that apart from seeking the support of AAP in launching an agitation on the agrarian crisis, he had also urged it to join forces with the opposition parties in arriving at the names of the candidates for the post of president and vice-president.

Congress to look for the “best person”

Recently, senior Congress leader and spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had also stated that non-NDA parties would strive to find “the best person” for the post of president if the ruling alliance did not reach out to the opposition.

As per Singhvi’s insistence that the ten-member sub-group constituted to reach a consensus on the presidential candidate would meet soon, on June 11 it was decided by the opposition leaders that the group would meet on June 14 to start the exercise of finalising the candidates for the two posts.

Will Pawar power his way through?

Incidentally, many in the Congress, including party president Sonia Gandhi and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), have reportedly been favouring NCP leader Sharad Pawar as the candidate for the post of president, which is why Praful Patel has been nominated by the party in his place to head the sub-group.

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