Within 24-hours of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ending the surprise by naming Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate, several opposition parties are now struggling to remain united and find a Dalit candidate who can stand tall against the saffron party’s move. Things became more difficult for the Opposition after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday extended his agreement to Kovind’s elevation to the high office. Soon after Kumar’s reaction came in, Congress rushed Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad to Patna to have a talk regarding the same with Bihar CM.
As per Indian Express sources, after meeting with Azad, Bihar CM conveyed to leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and RJD chief Lalu Prasad that he has good personal equations with Kovind. Even the Political Secretary to Congress President Ahmed Patel reportedly spoke to Kumar regarding the same.
The report further stated that parties including JD(U) and NCP are likely to hold meetings on Wednesday to discuss their next course of action. The JD(U) core committee will organise its meeting in Patna while the NCP meeting will be held in New Delhi today. Even a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader informed that as off now the party has not made any decision and is in ‘double mind’.
Speaking to Indian Express about about the JD(U)’s stand on NDA’s candidate nomination, party leader KC Tyagi said, “Even after June 22 (when Opposition parties meet to take a decision on fielding a common nominee), we will still remain with the Opposition but we may differ on some issue. We are a pioneer of Opposition unity and will remain part of Opposition unity. Not much should be read into this matter.”
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Even Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati informed the Congress party that she will have to back NDA’s decision if the Opposition does not field a Dalit candidate for the upcoming Presidential election. On June 20, several opposition leaders including Yechury were engaged in several meetings with other parties, however there was not much forward movement, report added further.
Source informed Indian Express that former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has informed the Opposition that he will for sure back them, but also hinted that Mulayam Singh Yadav might take the other route.
Making roads tough for the saffron party, several Opposition leaders have suggested that a Dalit candidate from Maharashtra should be fielded given the fact that Shiv Sena, an ally for the NDA, has not supported Kovind’s selection.
Sources also informed that Opposition has now fastened its pace in search of a credible Dalit face. Apart from former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar are some other names that are being discussed as off now.