The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) named Dalit leader and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s candidate for the post of president.
BJP president Amit Shah announced that Kovind is expected to file his papers on June 23. Amit Shah announcement comes after a nearly two-hour meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board.
Shah said NDA has informed political parties of its choice.
Born in 1945, Kovind is a two-time member of Rajya Sabha and former national spokesperson for the party. He also headed the BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha between 1999 and 2002. He comes from the Koli community of Uttar Pradesh.
The NDA is within striking distance of a majority in the electoral college. Voting for the presidential election is scheduled on July 17, while the counting will take place on July 20, four days before Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends.
Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi already spoke to Sonia Gandhi, president of Congress party and former PM Manmohan Singh about the decision.
“Sonia ji has said that they will hold a discussion before a decision,” Shah said.
BJP’s decision will put many opposition leaders including Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati and Samajwadi Party in a tight spot. For, it may be difficult for them to oppose a Dalit leader due to political equations.
Kovind had studied law from Kanpur University and was centre government’s standing council in the Supreme Court between 1980 and 1993. The old Dalit leader is from Kanpur.
TRS, TDP support Kovind
Telangana’s ruling TRS party and Telugu Desam Party today welcomed the BJP’s decision to put up Kovind as the candidate for the presidential election.
A statement from the office of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said Modi told Rao over the phone, “as per KCR’s suggestion we have decided upon a Dalit candidate for the presidential post.”
KCR conveyed to Modi his party’s “willingness and his willingness” to support the NDA candidate.
Meanwhile, reports from Amaravati said the TDP welcomed the BJP’s decision. TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu hailed Kovind’s candidature as “the right choice” for the highest constitutional post and pledged his party’s full support to him.
Naidu assured Modi that he would contact TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee upon her return from her foreign visit, a TDP communication said.