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CPI(M) gives Govt. June 20 as ‘deadline’ to declare Prez candidate

By deliberating with Sonia Gandhi and proposing to meet Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM) chief Sitaram Yechuri and a host of other opposition leaders, the BJP has effectively countered the criticism by its political rivals that the Narendra Modi government was not interested in building consensus on an issue as important as the presidential election and was thrusting unilateralism over others.According to sources in the CPI (M), the Left party wanted to know from the ministers, who are part of a committee that the BJP has floated to evolve consensus on the presidential nominee, if former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan was the NDA’s candidate, as reported by a website. The third member of this committee, finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley was not there because he is away in Seoul. “But that they did not convey.they will take some time to do that”, Yechury told reporters after the meeting.”We expected the BJP leaders to come up with some name, one or more, for the post of the president of India, so that the Congress could take a call on that”.Later, Mr. Azad said, “When they have not given any names, there is no question of consensus”.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.Mr. Yechury also told media that the BJP leaders have not proposed any name. We were expecting them to disclose the name so that we can discuss it in our party and other opposition parties.The sight of two senior BJP ministers – Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu – driving inside 10 Janpath, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, on Friday morning by itself was very significant.Almost, a similar drill was repeated at CPI (M) headquarters.”We are speaking to all the parties and trying to bring as many as possible on board”, said the Congress spokesperson, adding that the party has also not made up its mind on its presidential candidate.The meeting, which lasted over 20 minutes, was also attended by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.Sources said the government and the BJP are of the view that approaching different parties with one or a panel of names for approval without knowing their views and suggestions may not be appropriate.Talking to ANI here, Yechury said, “There was no question of talking any further”.MS Swaminathan: Known for his role in India’s Green Revolution, MS Swaminathan’s name has been suggested by the BJP ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena.The numbers in the electoral college or value of votes are stacked in such a way that the candidate named by Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the BJP-led NDA is sure to win the election.Congress sources said that the two ministers were having consultations to create an impression that the government was making an attempt to get the Opposition on board. We said fine, tell us the basis for the support, who is the candidate. “We asked if they have a candidate”. It also aimed at garnering support for a common candidate, he said.Meanwhile, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat had lunch with President Pranab Mukherjee, a meeting the RSS described as “a pre-decided courtesy meeting” into which “nothing should be read”.”They (BJP leaders) said the government wants our cooperation”.The indication from the Opposition side is that there will be a candidate against the BJP’s nominee.Singh and Naidu are part of the three-member team constituted by Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah for discussion with political parties for the presidential polls.