Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah announced the name of Kovind, 71, after a almost two-hour meeting of the BJP parliamentary board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, ending all suspense about the NDA's candidature for the top constitutional post.
Against this backdrop and the fact that Kovind is an eminent lawyer belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, after discussing with the senior party leaders, BJD had made a decision to support his candidature, he added.
Kovind is probably going to document his papers on June 23, BJP president Amit Shah said following an about two-hour meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board.
"Modiji has spoken to the country's opposition Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and apprised them of the BJP's choice", he added.
Prime Minister Modi also spoke to BiharChief Minister Nitish Kumar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy over NDA's presidential candidate pick. He devoted his life to public service & worked for poor and marginalised.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has Kovind and has said that with his illustrious background in the legal arena, the latter's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution would benefit the nation. "They told us that they will consider our suggestions but have now announced their candidate unilaterally in a non-transparent manner", said Raja. Now, TRS (2%), BJD (2.99%), AIADMK (5.99%), YSR Congress (1.53%) have already supported the candidate. "We will let you know after that", BJD chief Naveen Patnaik told media here today.
By playing the Dalit card, the BJP has forced the Opposition parties with a Hobson's choice.
On Monday, the NDA had named Kovind, the governor of Bihar, its candidate after a Parliamentary Board meeting.
Communist Party of India leader D Raja said the BJP's announcement was "non-transparent". "They informed us after announcing this decision so there is no scope for consensus now..."
Earlier Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao also welcomed the NDA government's decision. By proposing Kovind's name the party is trying to woo Dalit voters ahead of crucial polls. On the presidential nominee announced by the NDA, we have nothing to say. As soon as Kovind's name was out, backchannel talks had begun among the opposition parties and chiefs of regional parties came out declaring who they intend to support. Though BJP had managed to break BSP's stranglehold over the Dalit vote in UP assembly elections, the increasing friction between upper and lower castes in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and UP has led to the rise of a young and oppositional Dalit leadership.
Nominations close on June 28 and the electoral college would hold a vote, should one be required, on July 17, according to the Election Commission of India.
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