Modi's party backs Ram Nath Kovind for president of India

Cheryl Sanders
June 20, 2017

The choice of a Dalit leader makes it hard for the Opposition unless it also pits a Dalit against Kovind. On one hand, they were finding it hard to reject the official choice for fear of being branded anti-Dalit.

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the BJP "unilaterally" selected Kovind and the non-NDA parties will take the decision "keeping in mind the country's history that the ruling and opposition parties contested the polls on all occasion except once". "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22", Azad told reporters.

The BJP's parliamentary board meeting, which was attended by Modi, picked the one-time Supreme Court lawyer after it went through a "long list" of names, Shah said, declining to reveal the other contenders.

The BSP said it was "positive" on Kovind's name and added that it would support the Opposition's candidate only if they fielded a Dalit candidate. Most importantly, he is not a hardcore member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor.

With the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) putting up a Dalit, the opposition United Peoples' Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress party, will be hard put to it to oppose him. "I am personally glad he is the presidential candidate". The imminent presidency of Kovind is also a landmark in the Sangh Parivar's project of Hindu consolidation. "Opposition will meet on June 22, then only we can announce our decision", she said.

Virtually accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of playing Dalit vote-bank politics, the Shiv Sena June 19 said it would not support Ram Nath Kovind if he had been nominated merely to win Dalit votes.

BJP leaders said four sets of nomination papers had been prepared, with the Prime Minister, the BJP chief, Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu as the first proposers. The Bahujan Samaj Party is threatened by the rise of a new Dalit outfit, the Bhim Army, while the BJP is attempting to moving ahead to shore up its support among the Dalits and backward classes. Mr. Kovind's record within the BJP has been steady, if uneventful. "He has an ideal relationship with the state government", Nitish Kumar said after meeting Kovind at Raj Bhavan here. He praised Kovind for having done exemplary work as Governor of Bihar, for working with impartiality and for maintaining "an ideal relationship with the state government".

JD (U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also expressed his "personal happiness" but did not commit his party's support.

However, he said, his party will decide on whether to back the Governor's promotion only after it consults with others on Thursday.

The election for the next President of India is to be held on July 17 as President Pranab Mukherjee will demit the office on July 24.

Other reports by iNewsToday