BJP considering 'moderate' presidential candidate for wider support
At a meeting led by BJP chief Amit Shah, it was decided that the party would reach out to smaller regional parties to garner support for the NDA's presidential candidate. This comes amid speculations that the BJP is considering a 'moderate' candidate instead of someone explicitly pro-saffron. This might get it others' support and also impact the opposition's move of finding a 'joint candidate'.
BJP discusses presidential candidate
The BJP has begun discussions on its presidential and vice-presidential candidate and is reportedly exploring a larger pool. According to sources, PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari took part. Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and BJP chief Amit Shah were absent.
President Mukherjee dispels speculations about continuing
"I have exactly two months to go. On July 25, a new President assumes office. I am sending back officials who have worked with me, to their ministries and departments," said President Pranab Mukherjee on May 25, ending speculation he might run for another term.
Competence and seniority, not social background, are deciders for BJP
Sources said the leaders were in favor of fielding nominees based on competence, seniority and party affiliation, and not social background. This comes amid speculation that the party was looking to field a Dalit or a tribal as part of its social outreach. However, the discussions were informal, and a final decision is pending.
Meanwhile, the opposition is uniting against the Centre
Opposition parties have not yet decided upon a common candidate for the presidential elections. Discussions are underway. In addition, parties are also considering forming a coalition for the 2019 general elections and nominate a common prime ministerial candidate. Rumors have it that Congress plans to field former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as its candidate.
Chances of consensus thin
BJP is just short of majority in the electoral college, which votes to decide the president. It is likely to appeal for support of regional parties; YSR Congress has already pledged allegiance. Last week, it refused suggestions by the opposition to forego the chance to field its own nominees. Chances are slim that all parties will arrive at a consensus candidate.
NDA has over 54% support for presidential candidate- Sources
According to sources, the government is confident its choice of candidate for president will have necessary support; backing by the AIADMK and TRS is likely. Meanwhile, "DMK is going with Congress," said a senior BJP leader. The NDA has reportedly already garnered 54% of votes in the electoral college.