India’s ruling party picks Dalit as presidential candidate

State BJP President Tapir Gao has also welcomed the decision that Bihar Governor and senior BJP leader Ram Nath Kovind would be the Presidential candidate of the BJP-led ruling NDA at the Centre.

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.

Samajwadi Party, BSP, and JDU have also hinted that they may support Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for President. He devoted his life to public service & worked for poor & marginalized.

“Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor”.

The BJP’s parliamentary board meeting, which was attended by Modi, picked the one-time Supreme Court lawyer after it went through a “long list” of names, Shah said, declining to reveal the other contenders. This will breach Opposition unity to a great extent though Congress, Left parties, TMC and RJD, among a few others, will not let him the unanimous choice. However, she stopped short of expressing support for Kovind and said her party would be “positive” provided the opposition did not field any Dalit. If elected, he will be the second Indian President after K.R. Narayanan to hail from the Dalit community. A commerce graduate and LL.B, from Kanpur University in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Kovind is known for organisational skills in the party.

The announcement was made after a almost two-hour meeting of the BJP parliamentary board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “There are other big Dalit leaders in India”.

Azad further added that the party would not comment on NDA’s presidential pick “until the next meeting which has been fixed on June 22”.

Now, the Opposition has made a decision to meet on June 23 to declare Kovind’s candidature.

Within half-an-hour, there was a statement from Telangana chief minister’s office that KCR had received a call from Modi, who apparently told him that the BJP followed KCR’s advice to select a Dalit as the Presidential candidate.

However, the Dalit (SC) community leaders in Gujarat feel this is a calculated move by the government head of Assembly elections to pacify the community which is enraged over atrocity issues. Sources said the meeting was a mere formality.

“I hope they (opposition) would not have any reason to oppose the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind because of his background, non-controversial nature, and sound legal and social background”.

He said he congratulated Kovind on his nomination. They said that when they decide, they will come back to us with a proposal.

Incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24.