CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said today that the BJP reaching out to opposition parties on the presidential election was “more like a PR exercise”, after a meeting with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu.
“They (BJP leaders) did not propose any name,” Yechury said, reiterating his party’s stand that a candidate with”impeccable secular credentials” should be the next president.
Singh and Naidu, who are part of a BJP panel to work out a consensus on the presidential nominee, met Yechury as part of its efforts to reach out to the opposition.
Stepping out from the nearly 30-minute meeting, Yechury told media persons that the BJP panel would meet them again.
Asked about the government’s efforts to develop a consensus on the presidential candidate, he said there has to be some name (proposed) to arrive at a consensus.
The government on Friday formally began its outreach with the opposition on the presidential election with senior ministers Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi, but placed no name of its nominee, forcing the party to rule out any cooperation on a consensus.
Instead, the BJP team sought from the Congress leadership the name of the opposition candidate for the July 17 election.
“The BJP leaders did not give any name to Congress President Sonia Gandhi but they wanted us to reveal the name of our candidate. We were expecting them to disclose the name so that we can discuss it in our party and other opposition parties. Since no names were given from the government side and since no names are being given, there is no question of any discussion and cooperation,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was present at the meeting, told reporters later.
“They should give us the name and then seek cooperation,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of a consensus, senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was also present, said the ministers have not given any names.
“When they have not given any names, then where is the question of consensus. If they give the names, then only we can discuss it with our allies and other political party leaders. When they have not given specific names – or one or two, three, like that – (then) there is no question of consensus. If they come with some name, we could have considered.”
Questioned about the purpose of the meeting, Kharge said, “That is only to meet and they are seeking cooperation. And what I can guess is just they are seeking cooperation because they have already got something in their mind. That’s why they have not given the name.”