NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind will start a nation-wide tour on June 25, stopping first in Uttar Pradesh, where he will talk to members of the electoral college that votes for the new president. The former Bihar governor will be accompanied by senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari in the UP leg of the tour. BJP sources said Kovind, 71, would travel to the bigger states and at some places interact with electoral college members from more than one state. He would discuss the issue with MPs and MLAs of the parties which have announced their support to him. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members besides MLAs from all state assemblies comprise the electoral college, totalling 10,98,882 votes.
The vote value of a member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha is 708, while that of an MLA would depend on the population of the state he or she represents. They said state BJP leaders may reach out to opposition parties as well and ask them to attend the meetings to be addressed by Kovind. As there is no provision of party whips in presidential elections, the BJP hopes that it may get the support of people who would like to vote for Kovind, irrespective of their party position. The complete itinerary of Kovind’s travel is still being finalised as it will also depend on the availability of state leaders, including NDA chief ministers and others supporting him, the sources said.
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After filing his nomination Kovind reached out to the opposition by asserting that the president’s office was above party politics and that he did not belong to a party. “Since I became the governor I do not belong to any political party,” the former head of the BJP’s Dalit Morcha — who is almost certain to be the next president — said.