Opposition to meet on June 22 to pick counter-candidate for President

Sena smells vote-bank politics: NDA constituents barring the Shiv Sena today welcomed the nomination of Ram Nath Kovind for the president's post.

Mayawati, in her remarks to the media, said: "We are not against Kovind's nomination".

Despite the fact that the elections for the President of India will be held as per set dates the Opposition, to put it mildly, has been waffling with no one really serious about discussing and finalising a candidate well in advance.

The Sena will take a final decision tomorrow regarding its support to 71-year-old Kovind, who is the governor of Bihar.

"In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our governor has been declared as the candidate for the next president of India", he told reporters in Patna after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhawan.

On the other hand, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, "Amit Shah had met Uddhav Thackeray to seek support for the presidential candidate".

Spurning BJP's appeal for consensus on its choice, Congress said the Opposition would take a call on contesting the election after the June 22 meeting.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee didn't seem happy with the Kovind's candidature.

Describing Kovind's candidature by NDA as supreme honour of the Dalit samaj, Adityanath said that someone from among them has been selected for the top job.

Nitish Kumar expressed his happiness that the Bihar Governor would be the NDA's candidate for the President elections.

In 2012, Mukherjee personally called up and later met Thackeray soliciting his support, which the Sena chief offered, going against the BJP-supported NDA candidate, P.A. Sangma.

"The President's is a key post". It would fall in line with every Dalit outreach programme that BJP chief Amit Shah has been participating in during his visits to the different states.

The Opposition that had tentatively started speaking about a unified approach is today bereft of ideas and as a senior leader not wanting to go on the record at this stage said, "bereft of unity as well".

A meeting was fixed for June 22, but the "early" announcement by the BJP has some of the leaders now talking of an earlier meeting. "Someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj, or Advani ji may have been made the candidate".

"Taking into consideration various suggestions and inputs from various parties, we came out with Kovind's name", Naidu said.

  • Zachary Reyes