Not opposed to Pranab, but BJP will have its own President

BJP-led NDA is reported to have rejected the idea of a second term for Pranab Mukherjee as President as suggested by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

While the NDA has nothing against President Mukherjee, it cannot simply accept a candidate with a long Congress past and backing from opposition leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar.

NDTV quoting top BJP sources said the party will confer with RSS next month to decide on a candidate.

They point out that this is the first time that the BJP gets a chance to propose its own candidate for President and that the opposition must respect the situation.

With no offence to President Mukherjee, the ruling party would like a candidate of its choice even if it means a contest the report said, adding, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has the numbers to ensure its nominee wins.

Nitish Kumar had on Monday suggested that the ruling BJP initiate talks with the opposition and build a consensus of all parties to nominate President Mukherjee for a second term. The Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as also West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee indicated that they will support such a move.

President Mukherjee, on the other hand, has reportedly made it clear that he will consider a second term only if the government nominates him.

BJP, meanwhile, has made it amply clear that it would field one of its own candidates for President, and has asked union minister Mahesh Sharma to vacate his official residence at Delhi's 10 Rajaji Marg to accommodate Mukherjee when he ends his term as President in July.

The party is consolidating the vote bank and aggressively adding numbers with even forced contests for extra seats in some states like Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The party has also asked Manohar Parrikar, who quit as defence minister in March to become Goa chief minister, not to resign from Parliament before the presidential elections in July. UP CM Yogi Adityanath and deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya have also been kept ready as Parliament members for the Presidential elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently in the process of securing support from regional parties in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Tamil Nadu.

The President and vice president are elected by members of both houses of parliament and those of state legislatures. 

No names have been discussed yet, sources said, and top BJP leaders will confer with the party's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, next month to decide on their candidate.

There has been speculation that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, senior BJP leader and union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu are in the running.