New Delhi : While the national capital was agog with a wide range of names for the next presidential candidate, RSS chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat’s surprise and long luncheon meeting with outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee on Friday and his visit to the Rashtrapati Bhawan’s different halls and lobbies has added solid fodder to the rumour mills.

For the July 17 election, names of Metroman E Sreedharan to nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar to Infosys founder Narayanmurthy from the non political circles and LS Speaker Sumitra  Mahajan to Union Minister Thavaarchand Gehlot, an OBC leader from MP who is close to Modi, did the rounds of Capital’s political grapevine with no one really claiming to know what the Prime Minister is thinking. BJP insiders say that since both Gehlot and Mahajan belonged to Madhya Pradesh, only one of them would be a serious contender. RSS is believed to be in favour of Ms Mahajan.

A report on Thursday suggested that Sumitra Mahajan was asked by the party high command to stay on in Delhi for a week, though she has been in Manipur for a parliamentary meeting for three days. She is  to return to Delhi on Saturday evening. NDA is said to be quite confident of its votes, having elicited support from smaller regional parties. Amit Shah’s visit to Mumbai for a meeting with Shiv Sena is to pacify its supremo Uddhav Thackeray.

PM Narendra Modi is leaving for Portugal enroute to US on June 24 while Defence Minister Jaitely is visiting Russia on June 23. Political observers said in this situation the name of the candidate would be out only during the next week just before PM leaves to meet Donald Trump.

The nomination process for the president’s election has already begun and a few individuals have already filed in their nominations, including by people from Gwalior, Pune and Mumbai.

No names discussed with Sonia Gandhi Meanwhile, on a day of hectic political activities and secret parleys, the possibility of consensus candidate for the presidential candidate got diluted further as the BJP panel which met Congress and UPA Chief Sonia Gandhi, did not come up with any name.

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