Bhubaneswar: As deliberations on the Presidential polls are going on both in the ruling party and the opposition camp, the BJP seems to have narrowed down to a few names.
Sources have said that the party is weighing options considering the domestic politics and international diplomacy in mind. The party seems to be zeroing in on the names of former Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan for the post of President, sources said.
The party’s parliamentary board will take a final view on the name of the candidate next week after due consultation within the NDA.
The source said that eyeing upcoming elections, tribals are the main focus area of the BJP in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh where the tribal votes are key to BJP scheme of things and till date there was no tribal President in the country. So Murmu can fit in both tribal and women category and BJP can say that it has empowered the community and reap the electoral benefits.
While Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan can fit in to keep the government’s image better at international podium after the recent developments following comments by now ex-BJP spokespersons. The embassy at Doha had to issue a statement and BJP had to take action against them.
Khan, a vocal face and well learned about the Islamic world, has been defending BJP for past many years on issues related to minorities. A former student union leader from AMU, Khan has been Union Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet but resigned on Shah Bano issue and later was a Minister in the VP Singh government.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been authorised along with BJP chief J.P. Nadda on behalf of the BJP to speak to several leaders from opposition parties, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, as well as NDA partners for a consensus candidate for President. Sources said that the BJP-led NDA government is trying to build consensus with the opposition to avoid an election.
Sources said that Rajnath Singh has also spoken to Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav. The Defence Minister also spoke to alliance partner and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal-United. It is learnt that the senior leader will also speak to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and leaders of other political parties.
Sources said that the BJP is trying to build a consensus on a presidential candidate and no name has been suggested to opposition leaders. “Rajnath Singh also tried to know what the opposition leaders were thinking,” a source said.
Kharge said: “Rajnath Singh called me and spoke about the Presidential polls. But when asked about the proposal, there was no response. I am saying if the opposition comes up with a non-controversial name… will the government accept that? It’s a formality.”