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Modi-Shah trump all with Kovind as Prez pick
The BJP on Monday announced Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, as the NDA nominee for the Presidential post. The surprise choice has received backing from the Andhra Pradesh Opposition YSR Congress, the ruling TRS in Telangana, and BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
By playing the Dalit card, the BJP has forced the Opposition parties with a Hobson’s choice. If they support Kovind, they will be breaking Opposition’s unity, and if they oppose him, they stood the risk of being branded anti-Dalit.
By all indication, the country is set to get its second Dalit President after KR Narayanan, who was elected President in 1997 when entire Opposition, save the Shiv Sena, backed him.
Kovind’s name was announced at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi by party president Amit Shah following a 90-minute long meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Board, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the board members.
Kovind met the Prime Minister and Shah in New Delhi in the evening after his candidature was announced in the Monday afternoon.
Modi said he was sure that Kovind will “will make an exceptional President”. “Shri Ram Nath Kovind,
a farmer’s son, comes from a humble background. He devoted his life to public service
& worked for poor & marginalised. Shri Kovind’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation,” the PM tweeted.
Soon after deciding the Presidential name, Shah said Modi spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought their support.
“Soniaji has said they will hold a discussion before a decision,” Shah told newspersons.
Modi also telephoned Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and informed him on NDA’s choice as the latter “praised the Prime Minister for choosing the right candidate for the highest post”.
The Opposition YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh announced its support to the NDA’s Presidential candidate with its president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy affirming that his party would back a Dalit leader. Jagan gave this assurance to the BJP chief when the latter called him over the phone this afternoon seeking the YSRC’s support for the ruling coalition’s nominee. The ruling TRS in Telangana has also supported Kovind’s nomination.
The BJP’s taciturn ally Shiv Sena has kept a card up in its sleeve on the issue, saying Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will convene a meeting of party leaders to decide on supporting Kovind.
“Amit Shah called up Uddhavji after the NDA’s Presidential candidate was decided in the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting. Uddhavji told him that he will convene a meeting of the party leaders to arrive on a decision and convey our answer to him in one/two days,” said Sena leader Sanjay Raut in Mumbai pointing out that his party had suggested RSS chief’s name and later Swaminathan’s candidature for the post.
Kovind is expected to file his papers on June 23.
Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who was part of the three-member BJP committee, which interacted with the Opposition on the selection of Presidential candidate said nomination of Kovind as NDA’s nominee “is based on the inputs and suggestions from various Opposition parties besides allies of the NDA”.
He said Monday’s decision on the candidature Kovind has “factored in those views and suggestions”.
Naidu said Kovind is a veteran politician with grass roots experience and deep understanding of Indian society besides being a senior lawyer with a thorough understanding of Indian State and theConstitution of India.
Hailing from weaker sections of the society, Kovind is fully conversant with issues of social justice and the role of the State within the framework of Constitution. “Being a farmer, he is equally familiar with farm sector and farmers’ issues,” Naidu said.
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