Tahlka News Bureu
New Delhi: In an astounding move the BJP on Monday announced Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the ruling NDAs candidate for July 17 Presidential Election has left the opposition at a loss of words.
"We have considered that Ram Nath Kovind will be the NDA Presidential candidate". Party president Amit Shah announced the decision on Monday after a nearly two hour meeting here with the party's Parliamentary Board attended by President Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders.
"I am sure Shri Ram Nath Kovind will make an exceptional President and continue to be strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalsed." said PM Modi in his Tweet.
Kovind, 72 is a Dalit who comes from a humble background emerged as low-key and non-controversial. Most importantly he is not a hardcore member of the Rashtraya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor. He was a virtual unknown who contested and lost the Lok Sabha election in 1991 from Ghattamour in Uttar Pradseh and the 2007 assembly election from Bhognipur, that gave heft to many detractors on the opposition.
However, the Opposition party's are finding it difficult to reject the official choice for fear of being rebranded anti-Dalit. On the other hand, they run the risk of playing spoiler and breaking Opposition unity if they decided to back Kovind, especially as the Presidential election was being viewed as the first step towards the formation of broader secular anti-BJP collation of like minded parties.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, refrained commenting on the "merits and demerits" of the BJP candidate. He did, however complain about the manner in which the BJP had picked Kovind. "I think each political party of the Opposition was given to understand the final decision was taken, they would be taken in to confidence and the names would be discussed with them but that has not happened," Azad said. "Well, this is the sweet will of the NDA government."
Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar and Bahujan Samajwadi Party Mayawati came closest to endorsing Kovind's candidature while Samajwadi PArty will have problem voting against Dalit from Uttar Pradseh.
The electoral college, which elects the president through the system old proportional representation, comprises elected MPs and members of the state legislative assemblies with a total of 4,896 voters including 4,120 MLAs and 776 Elected MPs.
Total strength of the electoral college is 10,98,903 in which the NDA is shorty with a majority of by 20,000 votes but with several non-NDA parties pledging their support to its candidate, the ruling block now enjoys a comfortable majority.
The BJP is expecting support in Odisha BJD and Tamil Nadus AIADMK respectively.