BJP Named Presidential Nominee ‘Unilaterally’: Sitaram Yechury

The BJP had taken a “unilateral decision”, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said soon after the announcement of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s candidate for President.

BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday announced Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its nominee for presidential poll.

It looks like Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhar Rao and YSR Congress party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy are too eager to please the Bharatiya Janata Party, if their reaction on the selection of Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind as the NDA’s candidate for the Presidential elections.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has been holding additional charge of the defence ministry, while the environment ministry is being looked after by science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan.

Samajwadi Party, BSP, and JDU have also hinted that they may support Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for President.

Modi said Kovind would make an “exceptional” President and called him a strong voice for the poor and the marginalised communities. With an illustrious background in the legal arena, he said, Kovind’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation.

Kovind’s choice is being seen as a political masterstroke as many parties would not like to oppose a Dalit being elected to the country’s highest office.

However, he said a final decision on the BJP candidate would be made at a meeting of party leaders scheduled to take place June 20 in Mumbai. Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati said they are “positive”, promising support only if the Opposition does not announce a popular Dalit name.

JD (U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also expressed his “personal happiness” but did not commit his party’s support. But he was non-committal on whether his Janata Dal-United will support Kovind.

He was speaking to the media here after congratulating Kovind. “A meeting will be held soon to discuss the same”, he said. Nitish also said that “I had a word with Laluji and Sonia Gandhi and there will be discussion on this”.

Further stressing on the issue, he said the political parties are not divided on the basis of religion. Though BJP had managed to break BSP’s stranglehold over the Dalit vote in UP assembly elections, the increasing friction between upper and lower castes in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and UP has led to the rise of a young and oppositional Dalit leadership.

The Shiv Sena, which earlier suggested M S Swaminathan for nomination as presidential candidate, now says it was not consulted, indicating its unhappiness. “Kovindji was the chief of the RSS Dalit branch”. So somewhere it is a political fight or contest.

“We don’t want to comment on his personality, but will talk on merit”. A Day after BJP announced the candidate, the opposition started breaking.

Elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh, he served two consecutive terms till March 2006.