The BJP today stepped up its efforts to get maximum support for its presidential candidate with the three-member party panel speaking to a number of allies as well as opposition parties, amid indication that its nominee will file nomination next week. Party sources have said that the NDA candidate for the top constitutional post is likely to file his nomination before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US on June 25. They ruled out filing of nomination by its candidate this week as the consultation process will take more time with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu, two members of the BJP panel, scheduled to meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday as they work to evolve a consensus. They are likely to meet Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) following the meeting with Gandhi. BJP chief Amit Shah is scheduled to be in Gujarat on June 20-21. However, his three-day tour of Odisha starting from June 22 has been postponed, a party leader said. There is a distinct possibility, he said, that the NDA candidate will file his or her nomination any day between June 21 and June 24, he said. The nomination process, which started today, will end on June 28. Naidu today spoke to Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, N Rangaswamy of the All India NR Congress, Satish Mishra of the BSP and Praful Patel of the NCP, sources said.
He will also speak to most of the regional outfits from south India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a member of the panel, will be speaking to leaders such as Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, while Singh may confer with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. The home minister is also likely to speak to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Amid consultation among political parties, the BJP has given little indication of its choice for the top post. Opposition parties have made it clear that they will put up their own candidate if the saffron party chooses somebody with strong Hindutva leanings. The arithmetic in the electoral college favours the NDA, which has 48.6 per cent votes of its own. It is also expected to get support of the TRS, which rules Telangana, the YSRCP of Andhra Pradesh and the AIADMK, which is in power in Tamil Nadu.