Presidential Election 2017: Opposition parties led by Congress will meet today to decide who will contest against NDA nominee former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind who was chosen by BJP for the post of President of India. Congress is pushing for Meira Kumar even as the former Lok Sabha Speaker had met with party President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, according to reports. Apart from Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress were also looking for a contest. On the other hand, JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD had announced that they were backing Kovind for head of state. The Janata Dal (S) and INLD indicated that they too would not oppose Kovind’s candidature, Indian Express report says. Meanwhile, ahead of Thursday’s crucial meeting, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar, emerged as the top pick of Left parties, according to PTI report. The 63-year-old Prakash, a Dalit, is a former Lok Sabha member from Akola in Maharashtra.
So far, BJP’s surprise pick has left the Opposition clueless as BSP chief Mayawati had said that she would have to back Kovind if the Opposition did not field a Dalit candidate. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had reached out to other parties to convey Congress’ message. The party was hoping that leaders of all parties which had attended the May 26 luncheon hosted by Sonia Gandhi would be attending today’s meet.
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is currently visiting The Netherlands, had spoke to Gandhi and conveyed to her that she would back Meira Kumar’s candidature, according to IE report. Notably, The Left and Trinamool Congress had earlier indicated that they were in favour of Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
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Kovind, who arrived in Delhi on June 19, hours after his name was announced by the BJP, has been accorded a ‘Z+’ cover of NSG commandos. 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 is likely to file his nomination on June 23 and if elected, he will be the second Dalit President after K R Narayanan.