The government reached out to the Opposition for a consensus candidate on the presidential election on Friday. But the mrrting between Union ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu with Congress president Sonia Gandhi remained inconclusive as no names were put forward from either side.
“We expected that BJP leaders will come up with some name, one or more, for the post of president of India, so that the Congress party could take a call on that. But nothing of that happened. BJP leaders did not propose any name and instead asked us the names,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the 30-minute meeting.
The BJP has formed a three-member committee of senior leaders — Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Naidu. Members of the panel also met CPM leader Sitaram Yechury. Jaitley is in Korea and thus was not a part of the meeting with Gandhi at 10 Janpath.
Azad said the Congress expected the BJP team, which had sought time from Gandhi, to give names so discussions could be held within the party and with other opposition leaders.
“No name came up from the government side, and they said they have not yet decided on the name. Whenever they decide on the name, they will seek our cooperation and come back. Till the time any name comes, there is no question of discussion or support,” he added.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was also present during the meeting, said BJP leaders came only to meet and seek cooperation on the presidential election.
“They have not given any names; since they have not given names, there is no question of consensus. If they give the names, only then can we discuss them. There is no question of consensus,” he said.
Besides the Congress, the BJP committee of ministers has also reached out to BSP, NCP and CPI-M. They are expected to meet other opposition leaders, including CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury.
A contest for the top post, however, looks likely as the opposition is keen on it.
The panel’s discussions with the Congress chief comes barely two days after a sub group of opposition leaders constituted by Gandhi met in Azad’s Parliament chamber to discuss the opposition strategy. The meeting, including the Congress, the NCP and DMK, besides arch-rivals TMC and Left and SP and BSP, apart from the JD(U) and RJD, had decided to wait for the government proposal on the matter before taking a further view.
Even the opposition sub-group has not come up with any names so far but stand united on the issue.
The names doing the rounds include Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former West Bengal governor and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and former speaker Meira Kumar.
“We want a candidate with impeccable secular credentials to be the President,” CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury said after meeting the BJP leaders.
(With inputs from PTI)