The group of opposition parties which is trying to arrive at a consensus on selecting a presidential candidate has reportedly decided to maintain a distance from the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam aadmi Party (AAP) on this matter.
According to a report in Times of India, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday struck down a proposal moved by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for including AAP in discussions to identify a common presidential candidate.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad rejected the proposal citing objectionable conduct by some AAP members.
The report further said that Congress members referred to AAP as an "offshoot of RSS" and "B-team" of BJP.
They also alleged that the AAP’s conduct in Gujarat, Goa and Punjab was proof that their motive was to queer the pitch for Congress. The NCP also conveyed its discomfort in including AAP in discussions on presidential election.
BJP panel to meet Sonia Gandhi tomorrow
Meanwhile, the BJP on Wednesday stepped up its efforts to get maximum support for its presidential candidate with the three-member party panel comprising Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu speaking to a number of allies as well as opposition parties, amid indication that its nominee will file nomination next week.
Party sources have said that the NDA candidate for the top constitutional post is likely to file his nomination before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US on June 25.
According to PTI, the three-member BJP panel will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday to hold discussions on presidential election.
After meeting Gandhi, the panel of three ministers will also meet CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, sources close to Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.
Naidu has already spoken with Praful Patel (NCP) and Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) on this issue.
Patel and Misra, who are expected to meet the panel shortly, are said to have assured Naidu their parties would take a call on a candidate after talks with the BJP panel.
Six nominations filed on Day One
Six candidates filed their papers for the presidential election on the first day of nominations, officials said on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission issued notification for the presidential poll, setting the ball in motion for the July 17 election to the country's highest constitutional post.
Those who filed nominations on Wednesday include K. Padmarajan from Salem in Tamil Nadu, who has earned the moniker of 'Election King' by contesting more than 150 elections.
His name figures in the Limca Book of Records for being the "most unsuccessful candidate".
Earlier, Padmarajan has contested against political bigwigs like J. Jayalalithaa, M. Karunanidhi, A.K. Anthony, P.V. Narasimha Rao, K.R. Narayanan, S.M. Krishna, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (in Rajya Sabha polls) and President Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential election.
Others who filed their nominations were Anand Singh Kushwaha from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, A. Bala Raj from Mahbubnagar in Telangana, Saira Bano Patel from Mumbai, Abdul Hamid Patel from Mumbai, and Kondekar Vijayprakash from Pune in Maharashtra.
Lok Sabha Secretary General Anoop Mishra, the Returning Officer for the election, issued the notification that the nomination papers may be delivered by a candidate or any of their proposers/seconders not later than June 28.
Voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 17 at places fixed under the rules.
The vote count will be on July 20, four days before incumbent Pranab Mukherjee's term ends on July 24. The new President is set to assume office the following day.
Assembly poll wins likely to help BJP nominee
The BJP's electoral victory in the recent assembly polls is set to help its nominee get elected as the next President of India.
BJP's victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have ensured that its share in the electoral college, which would elect the next president, goes up significantly.
The electoral college which elects the president through the system of proportional representation comprises elected MPs and members of state legislative assemblies -- a total of 4,896 voters including 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs.
While 233 are elected members of the Rajya Sabha, 543 are from the Lok Sabha.
While the Lok Sabha Speaker, an elected member, can vote, two nominated members from the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and 12 nominated MPs in the Rajya Sabha cannot.
The value of an MLA's vote depends on the size of the state he or she represents. But the value of the vote of an MP is the same and does not vary.
The total value of the electoral college is 10,98,882.
Before the assembly polls, the NDA was short of 75,076 votes in terms of value. But after BJP's astounding performance in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur, the gap will narrow down to 20,000 votes, an official in the Election Commission explained.
If it is able to get the support of parties like AIADMK with 134 MLAs and BJD with 117 MLAs, it can see the person of its choice in the Rashtrapati Bhawan easily.
In the 243-member Rajya Sabha, the BJP as of now has 56 members, while the Congress with 59 is the single largest party.
With wins in assembly polls, the BJP is set to emerge as the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha too next year and the NDA's tally would be close to 100. It would, however, still be short of a majority in the upper house.
Mayawati's BSP, which finished a poor third in Uttar Pradesh with a tally of just 19 seats, will not be in a position to send her to the Rajya Sabha again when her current term ends next year.
(With agency inputs)