- Opposition says government's outreach pointless without a name
- PM meets top BJP leaders to discuss choice for President
- Opposition will make next move by Thursday, Nitish Kumar says
The Bihar Chief Minister said that so far, the government's outreach has been vague. "We can wait for 2-3 days, but we cannot wait forever," he said in Patna.
If the government and opposition cannot agree on a candidate, an election will be held on July 17 with counting of votes three days later. Both sides have indicated they would like to avoid that. For its part, the BJP has appointed three ministers including Arun Jaitley to seek feedback from the opposition, which has in turn said that its preference is for a nominee who is acceptable to all parties. "Day before yesterday, Arun Jaitley called me, but there was no mention of any name," the Bihar Chief Minister said, adding that the opposition will make its move on Thursday, meaning that it will either list its own candidate or make its stand on the government's choice clear by then.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US on Friday. He met with top leaders from his party this morning to discuss the replacement for President Pranab Mukherjee, whose five-year term expires on July 24.
The BJP's delegates met with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury of the Left on Friday. "No name came up from the government side, and they said they have not yet decided on the name. Whenever they decide on the name, they will seek our cooperation and come back. Till the time any name comes, there is no question of discussion or support," said the Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad. Mr Yechury denounced the conferral as little more than "a PR exercise."
The opposition has also formed a committee of leaders who will review the government's choice, when it is made known, and decide whether to field a candidate of its own. The BJP and its allies have won the backing of regional parties like those who govern Tamil Nadu and Telangana, which means the ruling coalition's candidate should win an election easily. However, the opposition feels that combining on a candidate could help it practice its strategy as a combined front against PM Modi ahead of the general election in 2019.