Government did not suggest any name for presidential candidate: Yechury

Home Minister Rajnath Singh Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Naidu were appointed by BJP president Amit Shah on June 12 to hold talks with opposition parties and allies in a bid to select a consensus candidate for the poll

Sources in the meeting told WION that BJP leaders instead of suggesting names asked Congress if they have someone in mind.

Sources said Singh and Naidu - the panel's third member, Arun Jaitley, is overseas - told the opposition leaders that the party would like to finalise the name of the candidate for the post before Modi left on a foreign tour on June 24.

They said the two-member BJP team, which met Congress President and other leaders, explained to them that the twin objectives of the consultation process was to have the benefit of views and suggestions of various parties in the matter and to seek their support.

Curiously, on Friday, two days ahead of his scheduled meeting with BJP president Amit Shah, Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray threw another name into the ring - that of M.S. Swaminathan, who had played a leading role in India's Green Revolution, in view of the ongoing agrarian crisis.

Stepping out from the almost 30-minute meeting, Yechury told media persons that the BJP panel would meet them again.

"They said they know the names (of the opposition's probable candidates including Gopal Krishna Gandhi)".

Mr. Yechury also told media that the BJP leaders have not proposed any name.

"We have nearly 3 lakh votes more than the required number in the presidential electoral college", said a senior leader referring to the additional support the BJP has managed to get from parties outside the NDA.

Two senior cabinet ministers of the Narendra Modi-led Indian government, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, met the Congress party president Sonia Gandhi in a move to generate consensus on the election of country's next president.

The two ministers also met CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

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Kalam was a surprise candidate in 2002 for a greater consensus, but the changed scenario in 2017 gives the BJP more manoeuvring space to pick candidate from among its leaders.

The meeting, which lasted over 20 minutes, was also attended by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. Similarly, Sushma Swaraj's name has suddenly found support in several quarters and sources said that the Congress too would find her to be an acceptable choice.

"They (the government) wanted our suggestion". Naidu is reported to have reached out to the CPI (M), NCP and BSP as the BJP wants to finalise its candidate to file the nomination for the presidential poll before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for his United States tour on June 24. Many Opposition parties including the Congress are keen that NCP chief Sharad Pawar contest for the President's post, but he has shown no interest.

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

"They did not come forward with any name". "After all, our government is safe in the hands of the BJP", another minister said.

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.

A top BJP leader said the party was ready with the formalities of filing nomination papers.

Just as the Congress, when it was in power, never went with any list of names to the opposition parties for approval, the BJP could not be expected to do so, according to a Union minister.

These sources said that the RSS has requested the BJP that the party must inform the Sangh before making any formal announcement regarding the next President, though it would prefer if detailed consultations were held prior to that.

Opposition leaders have said they will put up their own candidate if the BJP opted for a person with "strong Hindutva leanings".

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