Presidential election 2017: The election to find President Pranab Mukherjee’s replacement is all set to take place today. While Ram Nath Kovind the NDA candidate has been supported by JD(U), Meira Kumar is nominee from the UPA, but her support is quite restricted. The race to Rashtrapati Bhawan may not see a tough contest Opposition unity is frayed even though they have tried to beat out a consensus. However, given the numbers Ram Nath Kovind may have the upper hand, say experts. Here is all you need to know about how this particular NDA vs UPA battle played out:
Days after BJP president Amit Shah named Ram Nath Kovind as NDA’s presidential candidate, Oppostion parties went into a huddle to name Meira Kumar as their presidential candidate. However, Nitish Kumar led JD(U) decided to vote in support of Ram Nath Kovind, who was Bihar Governor before being named to contest for the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Recently. Apart from JD (U) other Opposition parties like RJD, BSP, SP and other parties pledged their support for the Congress leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar. Parties like AAP and AIMIM are also likely to vote for Meira Kumar
Last month, Meira Kumar wrote a letter to the electoral collegium urging for their support in the presidential elections that are scheduled to take place on July 17. In her letter, she asked members to vote on the basis of their ‘inner voice of conscience’. As per the Constitution, no lawmaker can be issued a whip by his party.
“The President takes an oath to ‘protect and defend the Constitution’ – the backbone of our democracy. It is this Constitution that I and countless others have invoked to reinforce our democratic values… The Constitution recognises the office of the President as being the final touchstone for the passage of laws. It, therefore, cannot function to serve narrow political interests,” Meira Kumar said. “As an honourable member of the collegium, you have the unique privilege to make history…Let us stand together, in spirit and action, to affirm our pledge to this sacred process … and to that guiding voice within us,” the former Lok Sabha Speaker added in the letter.
On the eve of the election, Congress president Sonia Gandhi too appealed to Opposition parties to fight harder in upcoming polls even as numbers being stacked against them. “In these contests, numbers may be against us. But battle must be fought and fought hard,” she was quoted as saying by ANI, while addressing a meeting of Opposition parties.
Making a veiled attack on BJP, she also called upon the opposition parties to fight against “divisive and communal vision”. “We can’t and must not let India be hostage to those who wish to impose upon it narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision,” Gandhi was quoted as saying.
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She further stated the constitutional posts of the President and Vice-President have come under a siege at present. “The President and Vice-President are the constitutional heads of state. Both of these are, sadly, under siege today,” she added, as per Indian express.
In his tweet on the day NDA picked Kovind, the PM Modi tweeted this message, “I am sure Ram Nath Kovind will make an exceptional President & continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden & marginalised.”