Union Defence Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajnath Singh spoke to Opposition leaders Mamata Banerjee, Mallikarjun Kharge and Akhilesh Yadav to know their views on candidates for the Presidential election before the Opposition leaders' meeting today, sources told news agency ANI.
The BJP has deputed JP Nadda and Rajnath Singh to hold talks with allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), opposition parties and allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to come on board for a consensus candidate to elect the highest constitutional post in India.
Meanwhile, a meeting of opposition parties convened by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) suupremo Mamata Banerjee to build consensus on fielding a joint candidate against the NDA in the presidential election was held today with leaders of 17 parties in attendance.
Leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, NCP, DMK, RJD, Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), National Conference, PDP, JD(S), RSP, IUML, RLD, JMM and the Left parties attended the meeting, while the AAP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Odisha's ruling BJD skipped it.
Mamata Banerjee, who had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar yesterday, proposed his name as soon as the meeting started, reported NDTV. However, the Maratha strongman refused to run for President, saying "he still has active political innings to play", the report added.
After Pawar's refusal, Banerjee proposed the names of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah, the report further said.
The presidential elections will take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21. June 29 is the last date for nominations.