New Delhi: Hours after being announced as NDA’s presidential nominee, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.
Earlier in the day, Kovind before leaving for New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister thanked the people of Bihar for their support.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah had announced the name of Kovind as NDA’s consensus candidate for the post of Indian President.
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Modi reached out to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh to seek Congress’ support for Kovind.
Prime Minister Modi also spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswamy over NDA’s presidential candidate pick.
The Prime Minister said that Kovind will make an exceptional President and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised.
However, the decision did not go down well with some of the political parties with Congress alleging that the announcement was made without taking the grand old party into confidence while BJP’s ally Shev Sena termed it a political move to lure vote bank.
“The Centre apprised the senior leaders, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh about the announcement over phone after taking the decision. So there is no question of mutual consent. We didn’t expect this from them,” said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
He further said that the grand old party would not comment on NDA’s Presidential nominee as of now and would meet on June 22 to formally discuss the matter.
Joining the critics of NDA’s Presidential nominee, Shiv Sena said it would not extend its support if the Centre is eyeing a vote bank by nominating a Dalit face for the upcoming President polls.
“If someone is trying to make a Dalit a President with the purpose of gaining a vote bank then we are not with them, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said.
Thackeray, however, said that they would extend their support only if the decision was taken for the development of the nation.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress(TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee didn’t seem happy with the Kovind’s candidature. She said that someone of the stature of President Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani ji may have been made the candidate.
“I am not saying that the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit to be the President. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP they have made him the candidate,” Mamata said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said she is not satisfied with Ram Nath Kovind’s political ideology, but cannot reject his Dalit background.
Mayawati told ANI that it could have been better if BJP would have selected a name from a non-political background.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the way Kovind’s name was announced it portends that there would be a political contest.
Yechury said, “Kovind ji was the chief of RSS’s Dalit branch. So somewhere it is a political fight or contest. When Home Minister Rajnath Singh and I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu came to meet us, they said that they want to build a consensus. When we asked on whom they want to build consensus, they had no answer then. They said that when they decide, they will come back to us with a proposal. But instead of coming to us with the proposal they announced the candidate. Now we will take a call.”
The decision, however, was welcomed by some of the political leaders including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed happiness that the Bihar Governor would be the NDA’s candidate for the President elections. He, however, said a detailed discussion would be held on the matter within the JD (U).
He was speaking to the media here after congratulating Kovind. Nitish also said that “I had a word with Laluji and Sonia Gandhi and there will be discussion on this. I have told them about my views”.
Telangana Chief Minister and TRS Chief Rao also extended his support to NDA’s presidential candidate after speaking to Prime Minister Modi.
Kovind belongs to the Dalit community Koli and had worked extensively in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and also has the backing of BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS).
A lawyer by profession, Kovind had also been BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha chief (1998-2002) and president of the All-India Koli Samaj.
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.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued the notification in this regard and the process of the nomination has started that will continue till June 28.