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On eve of Oppn lunch, President indicates he isn't running for second term

BJP is likely to announce the name of its presidential nominee in a press conference on Friday

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

President Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee at a tea party with journalists to bid farewell to press secretary Venu Rajamony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)

A day before President will host leaders of opposition parties to build consensus on a possible common presidential nominee of the opposition, on Thursday indicated that he wasn't running for a second term.

"I have exactly two months to go. July 25, a new president will assume office," he said at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. Mukherjee, who assumed office in 2012, said he was sending officials who have worked with him to their respective ministries and departments. "One has gone to the Commerce Ministry, two to the Ministry of External Affairs," the President said at a farewell organised for his press secretary Venu Rajamony.

Among opposition leaders, only Bihar Chief Minister has publicly backed a second term for Mukherjee, while West Bengal CM is also said to have supported a second term for him. However, Banerjee, who was in New delhi on Thursday, didn't want to talk on the issue. The Bengal chief minister however said that in 2002, APJ Abdul Kalam was a consensus candidate.

On Friday, President will host opposition leaders at a lunch. The focus of discussions is likely to be the need for a common presidential candidate. Several among the opposition parties are agreeable to former West Bengal governor and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi Gopalkrishna Gandhi being the common candidate.

Banerjee is slated to attend the lunch, which will also be attended by Communist Party of (Marxist) leader and several other leaders. Some of the opposition parties, like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Telangana Rashtra Samiti and All Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have not been invited to the luncheon meeting. While AAP has until now maintained its distance from the opposition parties' efforts, other two have promised support to a Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the NDA, is keeping its cards close to its chest. On Friday, chief Amit Shah will hold a press conference to mark the three years of the Narendra Modi government, but it is likely that the name of the party's presidential nominee might be announced.

The opposition could announce the name of its presidential nominee on June 3 in Chennai on the occasion of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi's birthday celebrations.

The on Thursday demanded that the PM should come out with a white paper on the state of the economy, make public the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers according to the old formula and release data on job growth in the last three years. leader Anand Sharma alleged that the was spending taxpayers' money to build a "personality cult" around Modi, and has spent over Rs 1500 crore.

Sharma said the economic growth was "sluggish", investments have declined as bank saving rates. He said job growth has been a measly 1.5 lakh jobs generated last year against the election manifesto promise of two crore jobs every year.

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