New Delhi/ Patna | Jagran Politics Desk: Union Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dharmendra Pradhan held a two-hour-long meeting with Janata Dal-United (JD-U) supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday. During the closed-door meeting, Pradhan assured Kumar that will continue as the Chief Minister till 2025 and also broached the Presidential elections slated to be held later this year.

Media reports suggest the the BJP wants full support of Nitish, who has backed Presidential nominees of rival parties in the past. In 2012, Nitish had backed Congress' Pranab Mukherjee despite being a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

In 2017, he supported NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind though he was part of Grand Alliance in Bihar at that time.

"The BJP wants to ensure that the JD-U provides full support to NDA candidate. Even with their support, the BJP may fall short of votes and if JD-U backs out, the gap of votes will further increase," Hindustan Times quoted a senior BJP leader as saying.

The electoral college comprises 776 MPs of both the Houses and 4,120 MLAs from all the states and union territories (UTs). The college had 10,98,903 votes, with 5,49,452 votes being the majority. However, the majority has been decreased to 5,46,320 as the Jammu and Kashmir assembly with with a vote value of 6,264 has been suspended since 2019.

Uttar Pradesh has the maximum vote value with 83,824 votes, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal. The BJP - which has governments in big states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat - has 4,65,797 votes and its tally rises to 5,37,126 if its alliance partners' votes are added.

If the opposition joins hands and puts up a joint candidate, then the BJP might find it tough to win the 2022 Presidential elections. If they field a candidate like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who is capable of gathering support from several opposition parties, then the BJP might find it difficult to win.

In such a scenario, Nitish's importance will increase, which is why the saffron party reached out to him on Thursday.

"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," The Indian Express quoted BJP sources as saying.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma