- BJP will name its choice for president by June 23
- BJP team starts talks with opposition, meets Sonia Gandhi, Yechury on Fri
- Opposition to name nominee if it disagrees with government's choice
On Friday, ministers appointed by the BJP to handle consultations with other parties will meet with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Left leader Sitaram Yechury.
The BJP's committee consists of Venkaiah Naidu, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, who is currently abroad. Apart from allies, they have spoken already to representatives of opposition parties like Sharad Pawar's NCP and Mayawati's BSP to build support.
President Pranab Mukherjee's five-year term expires on July 24.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US on June 24, so the government would like to announce its choice before then - by the 23rd or next Friday, the party's top leaders were told.
While the BJP was finalizing its strategy, opposition leaders like Sharad Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Derek O'Brien and Ghulam Nabi Azad met to review how they would like to proceed. Opposition heavyweights like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have said their preference would be for the government to name a candidate who is acceptable across party lines, which would make an election unnecessary.
Just in case a consensus is not managed, voting has been set for July 17 with counting on July 20.
The President is elected by national and state law-makers. With regional parties like Telangana's TRS offering their support to the government, the BJP and its allies will outnumber the opposition if an election is held.
The opposition has said that even if that is the case, an election could help it gain valuable insights and experience in collating against the government. A maha-gathbandhan or Grand Alliance, it has said, could be its only real chance of challenging PM Modi when he seeks a second term two years from now.