Presidential Election 2017: Amit Shah forms 3-member panel to finalise candidate, Congress interest makes contest inevitable

As the presidential election are slated to begin next month, BJP chief Amit Shah formed a three-member committee, consisting of Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu, for consultations with political parties for presidential poll.

The committee will consult political parties — including the Opposition — to select a consensus candidate for the presidential poll. The panel will hold meetings with BJP allies and Opposition parties, PTI reported. The presidential election is scheduled for 17 July.

"The committee's mandate is to consult leaders of all political parties for the presidential poll and try to evolve a consensus," a BJP statement said. The last date for filing nominations for the poll is 28 June.

PTI reported that the Election Commission, on 7 June announced the schedule for the presidential poll. The nomination process will begin on 14 June with the issuance of a notification and the counting of votes will take place on 20 July in New Delhi. The tenure of incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee ends on 24 July.

On Sunday, Shah had postponed his visit to Arunachal Pradesh and he told mediapersons that the BJP will most likely defer its national executive meeting, scheduled for 15-16 July, in view of the presidential election. With the last date for filing nomination being 28 June,  Shah's presence in New Delhi was deemed essential and his trip was cancelled so that BJP can start the process of electing the next presidential candidate said the report.

Shah said there was no point in keeping the national executive meeting scheduled for 15-16 July in Andhra Pradesh, as the presidential election is scheduled for 17 July. If the Opposition, too, puts up a candidate, which is very likely considering the ongoing talks among top leaders in the Congress, the Left, JD(U), among others, a contest will be inevitable.

File image of BJP President Amit Shah. WP

File image of BJP President Amit Shah. WP

Meanwhile, leaders of, at least, nine non-NDA parties came together to form a sub-group constituted to arrive at a consensus on an opposition candidate for the presidential election, during a lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on 26 May.

The report said leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, among others, were part of the group. The meeting was attended by the leaders of 17 Opposition parties.

"Presidential election was briefly discussed in the Congress Working Committee meeting. It was decided in the meeting that we should have a small sub-group. That group would discuss how to go about the presidential and vice-presidential elections," said Azad.

The names of former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishan Gandhi and former speaker Meira Kumar have so far emerged as the Opposition's choices for the top job.

The opposition has made it clear they would await the choice of the ruling side before announcing its strategy. The opposition parties want that the candidate should be one who should be able to protect the Constitution, implying the choice should be a secular person. The opposition has also said that if a consensual candidate does not emerge, they will field a candidate "who will steadfastly defend the constitutional values," said an IANS report.

The electorate, comprising elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and members of state Assemblies, is tilted in favour of the NDA, but the Opposition is trying to pursue a few regional parties to support their candidate, a report by NDTV said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 15:54 PM

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