Presidential Election 2017: BJP on Monday announced Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its nominee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Kovind last night, heaped praised on him saying he was sure that the former BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha chief will make an exceptional President of India and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised. Political observers have termed the move as a surprise one. The move has certainly put the opposition in a fix over extending their support. Kovind said he will meet leaders of prominent political parties to seek their support to become a consensus candidate for the post of the head of the state. The election will be held on July 17 as President Pranab Mukherjee’s term is ending on July 24. The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued the notification in this regard and the process of the nomination will culminate on June 28. The 71-year-old former lawyer is likely to file his nomination on June 23 and if elected, he will be the second Dalit President after K R Narayanan.
It has been learned that JD(U) and BSP indicated they were not opposed to Kovind’s candidature. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday expressed happiness over the development and said that it was a matter of happiness that state’s Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India. BSP chief Mayawati said said that party’s stand would be positive provided the Opposition does not field any Dalit for the top post.
The main Opposition parties like Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress had hinted that they might opt for a contest. Opposition was also considering former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s name, according to Indian Express report. The Samajwadi Party was yet to take final decison since Kovind halis from Kanpur of Uttar Pradesh. Congress President Sonia Gandhi will chair the Opposition parties’ meet on Thursday to decide their strategy. It was believed that the Opposition will have to field a Dalit face as a counter to ensure that they stay united.
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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party would reserve its comments. He said that the government contacted some opposition leaders including Congress president and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over phone.
Terming Kovind as a spokesperson of the BJP, Yechury said except for Neelam Sanjiva Reddy’s election post-Emergency, there has always been a contest. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that BJP nominated him because he was a leader of the party’s Dalit Morcha. She said that someone of the stature of President Pranab Mukherjee or even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj or BJP veteran L.K. Advani may have been made the candidate.