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Posted at: Jun 19, 2017, 1:17 AM; last updated: Jun 19, 2017, 5:46 PM (IST)

Sena refuses blanket yes to BJP on Prez poll

Shah meets Uddhav; names of Bhagwat, Swaminathan turned down
Sena refuses blanket yes to BJP on Prez poll
The proposers and seconders, who will also include MLAs, are likely to carry out the formalities on June 20. Photo: iStock

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18

The Bharatiya Janata Party today moved towards finalisation of its nominee for the presidential election due next month, preferring to keep the cards close to its chest. Party leaders continued the process of reaching out to allies and leaders in the Opposition, seeking views and authorisation to name the candidate.

The BJP Parliamentary Board is scheduled to meet here on Tuesday to select the ruling coalition candidate amid reports from Mumbai that the Shiv Sena remained unwilling to give a blanket authorisation to the BJP without the latter putting a name on the table.

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BJP chief Amit Shah had a 75-minute meeting with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to ascertain the views of its ally. Shiv Sena sources told The Tribune that its earlier proposals of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan were turned down.

“The BJP said Bhagwat was difficult and Swaminathan has health issues. This is election for the President of India and the Shiv Sena has always taken its own stand… we respect the PM but need to have a name which the BJP did not offer today,” a Shiv Sena leader from Mumbai said.

The Sena rebuff notwithstanding, the BJP got the nod from another ally, Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party. After a meeting with Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, the LJP chief said the party would go with the decision of the PM.

Naidu, one of the three members of the party panel tasked to hold consultations, also spoke to Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav and Naresh Agarwal on the presidential election. The SP leaders, said BJP sources, favoured a politician as the President.

Separately, Arun Jaitley spoke to Trinamool Congress and Biju Janata Dal leadership. Jaitley along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh is on the three-member panel set up by Shah to do the political outreach. Naidu briefed the BJP president on discussions with various parties so far.

CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy today said during his meeting with Naidu and Rajnath Singh, he suggested the name of Gopal Gandhi as a candidate. “The BJP leaders just heard us and said nothing. They did not have any names to discuss, but I suggested that the elections offer an opportunity to have a person with secular credentials who can heal the current atmosphere of divisiveness.”  BJD parliamentary party leader Bharatruhari Mahtab too wondered how could there be any discussion without the BJP suggesting candidates it had in mind.

Earlier, the BJP panel met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

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