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Presidential election: BJP picks Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind as nominee; the congress rules, consensus

Ram Nath Kovind with President Pranab Mukherjee. (Photo Express)

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In a move widely considered a political feat, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday elected Governor Bihar Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader, as the NDA candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Known as a staunch supporter of Dalit rights, the 71-year-old Kovind would become the country's second Dalit president, after KR Narayanan, if he is elected. His election is almost a certainty that the ruling bloc, with the support of some regional parties, will have a majority in the electoral college. In addition, many parties would be reluctant to oppose a Dalit candidate being elected to the highest office.

Reflecting on NDA ‘s election for the coveted post, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Kovind will be exceptional president and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, oppressed and marginalized. “I am sure that Shri Ram Nath Kovind will be exceptional president and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, oppressed & marginalized,” PM Modi tweeted. Heaped more praise on Kovind, the Prime Minister said his knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will be of great benefit to the nation.

Kovind's selection announced BJP President Amit Shah following the party's parliamentary board, which was attended by Modi and senior party leaders. Shah also sought support from opposition parties, saying the prime minister had spoken to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh.

The presidential election will take place on July 17th and the counting of votes will begin on July 20th. The term of office of incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee's term will come to an end on Dec.

Congress, however, refrained from commenting on the question immediately, saying the opposition would launch a call to challenge the election after a meeting on June 22nd. “Congress does not want to comment on this matter because we want to make a unanimous decision with all other opposition parties on the presidential election. The final call will be in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22, ”senior chief Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Describing the BJP's trying to reach out to the opposition as a “formality and a public relations exercise,” Azad said the BJP should have built a consensus before announcing the candidates. “But they informed us after announcing this decision, so there is no scope for consensus now… we didn't expect this from the ruling party. But it is your will, you are free to make a unilateral unilateral decision, ”Azad added.

The TRS ruling in Telangana and the Telugu Desam Party were among the first to have parties welcomed the decision, saying they would have support from NDA s presidential candidate Kovind. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged the opposition parties to rise bipartisan and again the NDA candidate for president. On the other hand, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed his delight over Kovind's candidacy but briefly stopped committing to supporting the NDA nominees.

BSP leader Mayawati stated that your party would be positive provided the opposition isn't on the field any Dalit for the top post, while Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said Kovind was elected for that post only because he was the leader of the Dalit Morcha of the BJP.

Meanwhile the CPI called on the opposition to put their candidate against Kovind as the NDA candidate for president is from among the ranks of the RSS.

Kovind, a lawyer-turned-politician, became a champion of the Planned Caste, Planned Tribe, OBC, minority and women's rights from his college days. He served as the former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002, in addition to being the party's national spokesman. He was also the chief of the All-India Koli-Samaj.

Kovind was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh and served two consecutive terms through March 2006. He also played a significant role during the stirring of SC / ST employees in 1997 when certain orders were issued by the Center had a negative impact on you. Later, under the rule of the first NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, these orders were invalidated following the amendments to the constitution.

As an attorney, Kovind was a pioneer in providing legal aid to the weaker sections, especially the SC / ST women, and the poor and needy girls, under the auspices of the Free Legal Aid Society in Delhi. He has also represented India in the United Nations and turned to the UN General Assembly in October 2002.

With inputs from PTI

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