NEW DELHI: On a day Election Commission issued notification for the July 17 Presidential election, “talk fever” gripped the political class, as the sub-group of Opposition parties decided to first hear out from the government panel consisting of Union Ministers – Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitely and M Venkaiah Naidu, which in turn reached out to scores of leaders in different states. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over a core group meeting consisting of senior ministers where he reportedly sought wide ranging consultation in identifying next President, Naidu emerged as the “Man with the mission”, as he established contacts with leaders of at least six political parties before flying down to Hyderabad on Wednesday evening for parleys with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandra Babu Naidu.
Naidu and Singh will hold talks with the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Friday. With Jaitely returning back to the national capital on Saturday, the panel will hold its first meeting on Sunday to hammer out definitive proposal to put across the political parties in its bid to evolve consensus for the Presidential election, sources said.
In a further confirmation that the BJP would unveil its Presidential nominee by June 23, the party chief Amit Shah, sources said, has postponed his Odisha visit scheduled for June 22, 23 and 24 for July 4,5 and 6. “Naidu spoke to scores of political leaders on phone, which included the BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, NCP leader Prafulla Patel, PMK’s Anbumani Ramadoss, TRS leader in the Lok Sabha AP Jithender Reddy, YSR Congress chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, chief of NR Congress of Puducherry N Rangaswamy. He has gone to Hyderabad to hold talks with the Andhra Pradesh chief minister,” sources said, who added that the Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh will talk to the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Jaitely will reach out to the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
With the government panel likely to concretise the proposal around June 20-21, the Presidential nominee is likely to file the nomination either on June 22 or 23 subject to “muhurt (auspicious timing and day)” even while the last day is June 28.
Meanwhile, the nine-member sub-group of the Opposition parties on Presidential election met in the Parliament premises decided to wait for the government panel to throw the proposal for a consensus candidate, which if failed, would lead to them putting up a common candidate. The Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters that no name was discussed in the meeting.
Incidentally, the panel members are reaching out to the leaders of various political outfits without any probable names for the Presidential election, sources said, who added that the effort is to seek the views of the leaders of their choices and how to arrive at a consensus.