BJP forms panel to consult parties on Presidential polls

New Delhi, June 12  The BJP on Monday said it is for a consensus candidate for the Presidential election and formed a three-member committee of senior ministers to talk to other political parties.

Two former BJP Presidents Rajnath Singh (Home) and M. Venkaiah Naidu (Urban Development) as well as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are members of the committee, the Bharatiya Janata Party said in a statement.

“The committee will hold talks with leaders of various political parties over the Presidential election and try to evolve a consensus,” the BJP said.

The Presidential election will be held on July 17. President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24.

The BJP has so far not given any indication about its likely nominee but opposition parties including the Congress have held parleys to find a consensus candidate.

The opposition has made it clear they would await the choice of the ruling side before announcing its strategy.

The opposition parties want that the candidate should be one who should be able to protect the Constitution, implying the choice should be a secular person.

The opposition has also said that if a consensual candidate does not emerge, they will field a candidate “who will steadfastly defend the constitutional values”.

Opposition parties will meet on June 14 to formally begin discussions on the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has initiated moves to bring the opposition parties on a common platform for the election.

Gandhi earlier this month constituted a 10-member sub-group of representatives from opposition parties to take forward the deliberations and discussions on the election.

“Members of the sub-group will meet on Wednesday to formally begin their discussion on Presidential and Vice Presidential elections,” a senior opposition leader said.

The sub-group consists of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Lalu Prasad (RJD), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Derek O’Brien (TMC), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), R.S. Bharathi (DMK) and Praful Patel (NCP).

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