NEW DELHI: The BJP will unveil its Presidential nominee before Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on his US visit on June 23.
While the BJP will hold wider consultations before unveiling its nominee for the July 17 election, the saffron outfit is likely to choose the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan from within its ranks.
While the Opposition is seeking to arrive at a common platform with its first meeting on the Presidential election slated for Wednesday, the BJP will reach out to each political outfit individually.
The party is aiming to beat Pranab Mukherjee’s 2012 victory margin, when he polled 69 per cent of the total vote share.
Sources said that the BJP is currently counting on 54 per cent of the total vote share in the electoral college of the Presidential election, and party chief Amit Shah on Tuesday, sources said, told panel members – Arun Jaitely and M Venkaiah Naidu – to widen the support base for the party.
Incidentally, there is no provision for a whip in the Presidential election.
Naidu told reporters in a tongue -in-cheek remark, that “the party chief did me a favour by including me in the panel, which brings to an end the speculation about me in the race”.
While BJP chief Amit Shah consulted Union Ministers – Arun Jaitely and M Venkaiah Naidu, who along with Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh are members of the panel constituted for talks with political outfits, on the scope of exercise for Presidential elections, it has emerged that Prime Minister
Narendra Modi has said that the next President should be distinguished enough to meet the criteria of “intelligence, knowledge and competence”.
Shah will also meet Singh, who was away from the national capital on Tuesday.
Jaitley and Naidu met in the day to discuss the nitty-gritties of the exercise, while they are learnt to have spoken to Singh on phone.
The BJP panel is likely to meet the Prime Minister soon, as they will begin talks with leaders of other parties from June 17.
While following the “democratic norms of consultations unlike the precedents set by the Congress...”, the BJP will consult all parties before unveiling its chosen Presidential candidate by June 23.
“Unlike the manner in which the Congress picked Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee first as nominees for the post of President and then informed the Opposition, the BJP will strictly abide by democratic norms. The three member panel will solicit the views of other party leaders on the criteria to be followed in identifying the next President and may even ask if they have any name to propose,” said a BJP national general secretary.
The BJP chief is likely to speak to members of the Parliamentary Board of the party individually, to solicit their views on the choice of the Presidential nominee next week.
While the BJP is seeking to give a semblance of having embarked on an exercise to evolve consensus, the party, sources said, is clear to get “the man swearing its ideology at the Raisina Hill”.
A 10-member group comprising leaders of top opposition parties will meet here on Wednesday to discuss their nominee.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been trying over the pastfew weeks to reach a consensus in the Opposition on candidates for the presidential and vice presidential election.