Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Modi-Shah trump all with Kovind as Prez pick

The BJP yesterday announced the name of 71-year-old Kovind, a low-profile Dalit leader and a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, as its nominee for the president's post.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said Kovind's resignation has been accepted. "They did inform us but only after they had decided on the name", he said and termed the outreach by the BJP as a "formality".

The presidential elections will be held on July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20.

The NDA, including Sena and the PDP of Jammu and Kashmir, which also extended support to Kovind on Tuesday, commands the support of 48.93 per cent in the electoral college made up of MPs and MLAs. We conveyed the decision to all the opposition parties.

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In response, Prasad, however, refused to change his stance and told Kumar that the Dalit background of Kovind should not disregard the fact that he represents RSS philosophy and is not a neutral person who would protect the Constitutional scheme of things.

Kovind, then the BJP's Scheduled Caste Morcha's chief, made it a point to disagree with S.K. Thorat, former UGC chairman and Dalit intellectual, and Udit Raj, then an independent Dalit leader and who is now with the BJP. However, when it came to his party allegiance, Kovind was quite vehement about projecting BJP as the only party that will "help" Dalits.

The BJP's parliamentary board backed the nomination of Ram Nath Kovind, governor of Bihar, Amit Shah told a news conference in New Delhi. YSRCP, an opposition party in Andhra Pradesh, has already offered its support. The BJP's efforts for a consensus were nothing but a "PR exercise", said party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Sources said union minister M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to NDA chief ministers and urged them to be present at the time of the filing of nomination by Kovind. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also reached out to several chief ministers and leaders of regional parties to shore up support for the NDA candidate.

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The party will take part in the Opposition's meeting on June 22 in which they would decide if they want to nominate a consensus candidate against Kovind.

When asked why the names of Sushma Swaraj or Sumitra Mahajan were not considered, party leaders remain mum but refuse to acknowledge that Kovind's Dalit credentials are the only reason why he was chosen.

Nominations will close on June 28 and an electoral college consisting of elected members of India's federal parliament and state legislatures will decide the victor on July 17.

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