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NDA urges Nitish Kumar to support Ram Nath Kovind

NDA urges Nitish Kumar to support Ram Nath Kovind

President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the resignation of Mr. Kovind as the Governor of Bihar, a communiqué issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said on June 20, 2017.

A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that his party is not interested if the National Democratic Alliance has put forward Ram Nath Kovind's name as the presidential candidate to garner Dalit votes, he expressed his support for Kovind.

However, my intent behind writing this article is not to focus on the political ramifications of this move, but rather on the social implications of a Dalit being named as the next presidential candidate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's choice for his President candidate is now Bihar Governor and former BJP MP Ram Nath Kovind, 71 that journalists and party members are hailing as a "masterstroke".

The opposition leaders also put up a fearless face, claiming their unity is intact after some of the non-NDA parties welcomed Kovind's nomination yesterday.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on Kovind immediately after Shah's announcement.

Nominations close on June 28 and the electoral college would hold a vote, should one be required, on July 17, according to the Election Commission of India.




However, consensus on Kovind, who headed the BJP's Dalit Morcha, looked elusive with several opposition parties, including the Congress, unwilling to back him, though some others were more guarded in their response.

However, the opposition, now a depleted force sans BSP's Mayawathi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, hesitated to question Kovind's credentials and made a decision to meet on 22 June to chalk out a strategy. As the vice president, he was the natural choice for the president's post in 1997 and all major parties, from the Congress to the BJP, supported him.

"(BJP chief) Amit Shah had met me and requested for our support for their candidate. On Tuesday, he resigned as the Governor of Bihar. Both President and Vice President are ceremonious posts. "We didn't expect this from them", said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

"Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country. We will give our final decision on the NDA nominee tomorrow", Thackeray said.

Kanpur-born former lawyer Ram Nath Kovind (71), a Dalit leader, is known for his organisational skills and is a loyal member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was also the Central government's standing counsel in the apex court from 1980-93. He was brought into the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh.

Kovind took the lead in providing free legal aid to weaker sections, especially the SC/ST women, and poor and needy girls under the aegis of the Free Legal Aid Society in Delhi. If elected, he will be the second Indian President after K.R. Narayanan to hail from the Dalit community.


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