Venkaiah Naidu defends not naming presidential nominee in meetings with opposition
The BJP on Monday defended the decision not to come out with a name for the July 17 presidential election during meetings held by the three-member panel with the opposition, saying it did not want to appear "pre-determined".
"Of course, we did not suggest any name. The reason was that if you suggest any name, it means you are not leaving any option for others," Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said, adding that he hoped for opposition support to Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind's candidature.
On June 12, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah had formed a panel comprising Naidu, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to hold discussions with various political parties for a consensus on the presidential candidate.
"If I take a name, practically that means (that) I am pre-determined. We went there with open mind, asked for suggestions. We met all important political parties, both allies and opposition, and asked for their views."
The opposition, including the Congress, Left and the Bahujan Samaj Party, termed the announcement of Kovind's name as NDA nominee as "unilateral".
"Keeping in view the best traditions of democracy, we reached out to all political parties, particularly the opposition."
Naidu, along with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had met key opposition leaders like Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in connection with the presidential poll.
The union ministers, during these meetings, had not suggested any name, prompting the opposition leaders to call the meetings a "public relations exercise" and a "formality".
"Taking into consideration various suggestions and inputs from various parties, we came out with Kovind's name," Naidu said.
The Minister said that before Kovind's name was formally announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally called up Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, among others, to inform them about the Bihar Governor's candidature.
"Despite having a majority, we reached out to opposition parties. We now hope that they don't have any reason to oppose Kovind's candidature because of his background, his non-controversial nature and social background," Naidu said.