NDA Floats Bihar Governor's Name as India's Next President

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 20, 2017

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS): Playing the Dalit card, the BJP on Monday threw a surprise by nominating Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA choice for the President's post, stunning the opposition which accused the ruling party of unilateralism. On one hand, they were finding it hard to reject the official choice for fear of being branded anti-Dalit.

The opposition, led by the Congress Party, will reportedly meet on Thursday to decide whether to name a separate candidate or support Kovind.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut alleged that Kovind's name was not discussed with the allies adding that the part president Thackeray will hold a rally in Mumbai evening to announce the party's decision. "We didn't expect this from them", said Azad.

However, the opposition may put a candidate in a contest to challenge, but that may yield no result.

Non-NDA parties like BJD, TRS and YSRCP have announced their support to the Dalit leader. "I don't want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate".

"During the meeting the senior leaders of the BJP had said that they will inform us before any announcement for a consensus, but they informed us after taking the decision". "Well, this is the sweet will of the NDA government".

They should be able to count on enough support from other parties to secure a majority, say BJP officials. This move will, BJP hopes, reinforce its recent successes in co-opting Dalit communities into its fold, the larger project of consolidation of a mass base that it envisages for itself.

A former head of the BJP Dalit wing and a two-time Rajya Sabha member, the low-key Kovind, who hails from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, became the Bihar Governor after Modi stormed to power in May 2014. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor's post. In Delhi, Janata Dal (United) spokesperson KC Tyagi declared, "Opposition unity is our top priority...we will not do anything to jeopardise it". Now, In case, SP (2.37%), JD (U) (1.91%) and BSP (0.86%) support the candidate, then it may reach around 65.98%. "Despite differences we have to take all parties into confidence". She said that someone of the stature of President Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani ji may have been made the candidate.

"As he is a Dalit we are positive on his name, but only if the opposition doesn't announce a popular Dalit name", she said. Finance minister Arun Jaitley also spoke to Kumar. But some Opposition leaders are not in favour of pitting a "Dalit against a Dalit" as it would appear that they are deliberately creating divisions among the scheduled castes merely for political gain.

If elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit Indian President after K.R. Narayanan. "Now that they have made the decision unilaterally, there is no more scope for discussion with them", Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told the media here.

"Amit Shah called up Uddhavji after the NDA's Presidential candidate was decided in the BJP's parliamentary board meeting". "There was no clarity in our strategy", said a senior Opposition leader.

Nitish Kumar expressed his happiness that the Bihar Governor would be the NDA's candidate for the President elections.

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