Mayawati's slight opposition due to Kovind's association with RSS: NCP

During his parliamentary tenure, Kovind emphasised development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas and helped in construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand under M.P. L.A.D. He has always been associated with the poor, backwards and Dalits... The meeting of Opposition parties is likely to be held on 22 June.

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah announced the name of Kovind, 71, after a almost two-hour meeting of the BJP parliamentary board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, ending all suspense about the NDA's candidature for the top constitutional post. "Shri Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation", the PM tweeted.

The parliamentary board of the BJP met here today to discuss the upcoming presidential election.

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. He also dialed BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, who said he will revert back after talking to his party. "We hope that he would be the unanimous candidate for the election".

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the non-NDA parties will take the decision "keeping in mind the country's history that the ruling and opposition parties contested the polls on all occasion except once". But, born in UP's Kanpur, Kovind's name hadn't found mention in the various lists of possible candidates.

Earlier Trinamool's chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said: "The name was announced at the BJP press conference. Hold them today if you will and Shiv Sena cadres would be fired up to fight", he said, referring to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' statement that the BJP was ready for mid-term polls "if they were imposed". "I did", he said sarcastically. However, there were also those in the opposition who kept their options open. "Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP they have made him the candidate", she said. Apart from Khattar, the state's Agriculture Minister Om Parkash Dhankar also congratulated Kovind, an official release said here.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed surprise over the name and said that "in order to support someone, we must know the person".

Other smaller parties like the AGP, NPP and Apna Dal have also offered support. While, Opposition parties, media flayed government over the provisions of the new prohibition law, the Governor gave his assent.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders say Kovind is well-read and has done well as chief of the BJP's SC/ST cell.

"I appeal to all members of the electoral college who are MPs and MLAs from all political parties".

Shah said political parties had been informed of the NDA's choice.

  • Leroy Wright