Presidential polls: 3-member BJP panel to meet Sonia Gandhi on Friday

With the date of nominating candidates for the upcoming Presidential polls inching closer, the Opposition parties are slated to meet at 4pm here today to deliberate on the same.

With the election to choose the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan just a month away, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) strategy of reaching out to the opposition seems to be working. The Congress leader said a sub-committee meeting will be held to discuss the names soon.

With 48.6 % of its own NDA votes already in pocket and barely a few days left for nominations to be filed, ruling BJP on Wednesday sought time from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, among leaders from other opposition parties, to discuss the Presidential candidate and try for a consensus to emerge on it.

They are likely to meet Sitaram Yechury of the CPI (M) following the meeting with Gandhi.

The three members of the committee are union ministers Rajnath Singh, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley. Patel and Misra are said to have assured Naidu their parties would take a call on a candidate after talks with the BJP panel.

With the government panel likely to concretise the proposal around June 20-21, the Presidential nominee is likely to file the nomination either on June 22 or 23 subject to "muhurt (auspicious timing and day)" even while the last day is June 28. Similarly, Naidu has sounded out NCP leader Praful Patel and a meeting with party chief Sharad Pawar is being worked out.

After prolonged silence on the issue, Shah constituted the three-member committee for consultations with NDA allies and Opposition on the issue.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday that he had exchanged views with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and it had been decided that they would talk to different parties.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a member of the panel, will be speaking to leaders such as Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, while Singh may confer with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

"We had not anticipated this move of the government".

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