BJP reaches out to allies as presidential poll nears, Nitish Kumar top on the list

The meeting came amid reports of growing differences between the JD(U) and BJP and buzz over the saffron party planning to place him into a central position.

The BJP leadership looks to phase Nitish Kumar out of the state into a Central position, including as vice-president of the country. (Express Photo)

Gearing up for the presidential and vice-presidential elections, the BJP has started reaching out to its allies, with Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar being at the top of the list, whom Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met on Thursday evening. 

The meeting came amid reports of growing differences between the JD(U) and BJP and buzz over the saffron party planning to place him into a central position, including a vice-president of the country, reported The Indian Express

“Not even the state unit was informed about Union Minister Pradhan’s almost two-hour meeting with the CM. We have been told it was part of BJP efforts to meet friendly CMs to ensure their support for the presidential and vice-presidential elections,” a source in the Bihar BJP was quoted by The Indian Express as saying. 

While the NDA is comfortably placed for both the elections in terms of votes, Opposition parties have indicated their intention to put up joint candidates for the two posts. Notably, Kumar has extended support to presidential candidates fielded by the rival parties earlier. 

In 2012, he had supported the Opposition’s Pranab Mukherjee for President, despite being a part of the NDA at the time. In 2017, when he was in the Grand Alliance with the RJD and Congress, he had chosen to support the NDA candidate for President, Ram Nath Kovind, instead of Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.

The Indian Express quoted sources saying that the BJP’s decision to send Pradhan to meet Kumar in a placatory gesture was taken after discussion between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J P Nadda. 

The BJP has also reached out to the BJD and YSR Congress Party and it is reported that the two parties will vote for the BJP. 

MPs in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha vote in the vice-presidential election, which is due in August, and the BJP-led NDA has a clear edge in both Houses.

The electoral college for the presidential election consists of the 776 MPs of the Lok Sabha (543) and Rajya Sabha (233), as well as MLAs of state Assemblies and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry. The total votes are counted on the basis of their value, which varies from state to state, with an Uttar Pradesh MLA carrying the highest value followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The recent Assembly elections, in which the BJP put up a spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, have cemented the BJP’s edge in the presidential elections as well.

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