Ram Nath Kovind Presidential election 2017: BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday announced Ram Nath Kovind, who resigned as Bihar governor today, as its candidate for the BJP-led ruling NDA at the Centre for the presidential poll. The announcement came as a surprise as several other names were doing the rounds. On this announcement, the former President of India, Pratibha Patil said that she was expecting a consensus candidate from the Dalit community. While speaking to India Today, Patil said that she was expecting a Dalit candidate, albeit a consensus candidate. She further added that because the President is the head of the country, also the first citizen and therefore, it would have been better had the election taken place smoothly and the first citizen of the country elected unanimously.
While the move of nominating a Kovind has been termed by the political observers as a surprise and it has certainly put the opposition in a fix over extending their support with JD(U) and BSP indicated that they were not opposed to Kovind’s candidature. Patil’s statement came in the wake of the decision of the main Opposition parties like Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress that had hinted that they might opt for a contest. According to Indian Express report, the Opposition party was also considering former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s name. Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi will chair the Opposition parties’ meet on Thursday to decide their strategy. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has not been very welcoming of the NDA announcement. She said that someone of the stature of President Pranab Mukherjee or even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj or BJP veteran L.K. Advani should have been made the candidate.
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When Patil was asked about the choice of Kovind, as a low-key figure, she told India Today that there is nothing wrong in being a low-key leader and added that one needs to have confidence in the work, experience and a genuine desire to work for the people.
The Presidential 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.