Ram Nath Kovind is NDA's nominee

20 June, 2017, 12:45 | Author: Valerie Burke

"In the end, we finalised the name of Ram Nath Kovind", said BJP President Amit Shah.

The BJP had taken a "unilateral decision", Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said soon after the announcement. The opposition will take a call on whether or not to put up a candidate against Kovind on June 22.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has said that it will not make a comment till the meeting on 22 June occurs.

While announcing his name, Amit Shah said, "Ram Nath Kovind has always fought for the betterment of the Dalits and other backward castes". The Left parties are likely to demand a joint opposition candidate just as they did in 2003 when NDA nominated APJ Abdul Kalam.

Of course, Modi also spoke to Telugu Desam Party president and AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, but the latter being an NDA partner, would anyway support Kovind. When Home Minister Rajnath Singh and I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu came to meet us, they said that they want to build a consensus. "Now, they have named a person with RSS background".

CPI (M) also spoke on the same lines, with party general secretary Sitaram Yechury reiterating the fact that the Opposition didn't keep its word.

He said the meetings with opposition parties was a formality.

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.

Besides, nearly all other BJP allies have announced their support to Kovind with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan calling it a "political masterstroke". "Somebody of Sushma's (Sushma Swaraj) or Advani's (BJP veteran LK Advani) stature should have been chosen". "They informed us after announcing this decision so there is no scope for consensus now..."

The NCP also said the future course of action by the opposition parties will be decided in the June 22 meet.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said that their reaction to Kovind's nomination is "positive" as he is a Dalit.

Naming Mr Kovind, a dalit from the Hindi heartland, as its nominee for the country's top constitutional post is seen as a "political masterstroke" by the BJP, which has clearly split the Opposition ranks. He headed the BJP's Dalit wing for three years from 1999.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee didn't seem happy with the Kovind's candidature.

Nitish Kumar also praised him for his exemplary work as Bihar Governor, for working impartially and maintaining an ideal relationship with the Bihar government.

While talking to reporters in New Delhi, Kovind said PM Modi called him this morning to inform that he was the BJP's presidential candidate.

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