With the BJP-led alliance and the opposition both set to put up their own candidates for India’s new President, this election is said to reflect another decisive election – the 2024 national polls.
BJP leaders met at Nadda’s home last evening, a day before nominations begin for polls in 57 Rajya Sabha seats on June 10.
The Rajya Sabha election will also have a bearing on the presidential polls. Incumbent Ramnath Kovind’s term ends on July 25.
The opposition is yet to announce a joint candidate for president and taking the lead in meetings to build consensus are Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao or KCR and Maharashtra leader Sharad Pawar.
The BJP has 48.9% of the votes of all MPs and MLAs. The opposition and other parties have 51.1 per cent of the vote.
The BJP needs only one of the fence-sitters – like Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD (Biju Janata Dal) or Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress – to support its candidate.
KCR, who has been working for a non-Congress, non-BJP front for the 2024 general election, has been meeting key opposition leaders, apparently using the presidential elections as a test case.
During the weekend, KCR met with his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal. He had earlier met with Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav and had spoken to MK Stalin and Mamata Banerjee on the phone. He is also expected to meet her in Bengal and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda in Karnataka.
KCR will also meet both Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar.
Nitish Kumar, whose ties with ally BJP have been strained for a while now, has not been supporting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate in the past few presidential elections.
Kumar’s move to push ahead with an all-party meeting on a caste census – which Tejashwi Yadav wants but the BJP is opposed to – is seen to be a big snub for his ally.
It raises questions like whether he will support the NDA candidate this time. He has also indicated that he may not give his party man, Union Minister RCP Singh, another Rajya Sabha term. Mr Singh is close to BJP leaders and has always acted as Nitish Kumar’s emissary to them.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan of the BJP recently met with Nitish Kumar in Patna and reportedly sounded him out on the presidential election.
The BJP’s other “intermediaries” are also working to consolidate support. Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is in touch with Naveen Patnaik and GVL Narasimha Rao, with Jagan Reddy.
The Congress’s chances of putting up a candidate of its choice are unlikely, more so with Rahul Gandhi’s comment on regional parties “lacking an ideology” sparking resentment even among Congress allies like RJD.
With inputs from NDTV