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Presidential Election 2017: No names, no consensus, says Congress after Venkaiah, Rajnath meet Sonia Gandhi

Senior BJP leaders and Union ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday arrived at Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence for talks to reach a consensus on a presidential candidate, polling for which is scheduled to take place on 17 July. The meeting was part of BJP's outreach to stitch a consensus on the official nominee.

Speaking to various mediapersons on Friday, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the BJP did not come forth with any names. Azad said that the BJP requested cooperation on the presidential elections, however, the leaders did not discuss any names. "First they need to give us a name, then there will be consensus," Azad said.

"They (BJP ministers) did not give us any name, instead asked us for a name. We were expecting them to suggest a name. Then we would have discussed that within our own party and with other opposition parties," Azad told the media after the meeting. Azad aside, Opposition leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was present in the meeting as well.

"Since there was no name suggested from the government, there is no question of cooperation or discussion," said Azad. "They are seeking cooperation and what I can make, they have got something in their mind, that is why they have not given any name and are seeking cooperation. But unless they give a name there can't be any question of consensus or cooperation," Kharge added.

Singh and Naidu, who are part of the three-member team constituted by BJP president Amit Shah for discussion with political parties reached 10 Janpath around 11 am. The BJP will reach out to other Opposition parties as well to discuss the presidential candidate. Later on Friday, Singh and Naidu are scheduled to meet CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury too.

Congress told BJP there will be no consensus unless they disclose the names of candidates. PTI

Congress told BJP there will be no consensus unless they disclose the names of candidates. PTI

Singh and Naidu arrived at Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence to help evolve an agreement on the crucial election scheduled for Saturday. The meeting lasted for 30 minutes. The meeting 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. Leaders had decided to wait for the government proposal on the matter before taking a further view.

Meanwhile, Naidu on Thursday spoke to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who is part of the opposition bloc, and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu, a BJP ally, over the presidential poll.

While Chandrababu said he would support Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call on the presidential nominee, Pawar offered no assurance and said he would be in New Delhi in a few days for further talks on the matter. The three-member BJP committee has so far reached out to Congress, Bahjan Samaj Party, NCP, TDP, CPM.

A group of nine opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and the NCP besides the likes of the SP, BSP, JD(U) and RJD, has maintained that they will finalise their stand only after the BJP-led NDA discloses its candidate.

Many of them have made it clear that they will put up a joint candidate if the BJP nominee is seen as someone with strong Hindutva background.

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 12:59 PM

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