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Presidential election: BJP parliamentary board to meet today to select its cand…

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentary board is meeting on Monday noon to take a call on its candidate for the July 17 presidential election.

The BJP has formed a three-member panel to discuss with the Opposition the possibility of a consensus candidate. The party’s parliamentary board will take stock of the talks this committee had with opposition leaders.

Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu have held consultation with allies and the opposition camp. Naidu and Singh have already spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence.

BJP chief Amit Shah met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai on Sunday, and Thackeray said his party will take a call only after the name of the candidate is decided.

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The Opposition, too, wants the ruling side to propose a name before seeking a consensus on his or her name.

“The panel of the Union ministers will brief the parliamentary board about the consultations,” a BJP leader said. “The parliamentary board can authorise the prime minister or the party president to take a call on the candidate.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, so far, not revealed to BJP leaders any name for the President’s post.

Multiple sources have told HT that former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi could be the potential opposition candidate, with Left parties pushing for Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson for the country’s highest post.

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On the other hand, several BJP leaders have claimed that the party’s choice for the post of the President will be a political person with strong BJP affiliation. This stand could spoil chances of the likes of MS Swaminathan, as suggested by the Shiv Sena, and ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan.

Also a Brahmin-Dalit combination is being discussed for the post of the president and the vice-president. The vice-president’s post falls vacant in August.

Names of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik are doing the rounds as possible candidate for the President’s post.

India’s presidential election involves a complex voting pattern involving all parliamentarians and state legislators.

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The NDA needs around 20,000 more votes to ensure victory of its candidate and the reach out to the opposition is seen as an exercise to test if there could be a consensus and ensure a greater margin of victory.

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