Presidential Polls 2017: Shiv Sena Finally Decides To Support Ram Nath Kovind

BJP president Amit Shah met Thackeray on Sunday, the last day of the former's visit to Mumbai, to enlist the party's support for the NDA's presidential candidate.

Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena on Tuesday announced its support for Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA picked candidate in the Presidential Elections 2017. Kovind lost two elections- one Lok Sabha and one assembly- but the BJP ensured his political rise by sending him to the Rajya Sabha in 1994 and then in 2000.

Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu insisted that all parties were consulted.

Nominations will close on June 28 and an electoral college consisting of elected members of India's federal parliament and state legislatures will decide the victor on July 17.

He also said that Kovind was unaware of the BJP's decision to make him a Presidential candidate.

KR Narayanan was the countrys first Dalit President.

"With his illustrious background in the legal arena, Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation".

A security and threat analysis carried out by central security agencies favoured an armed security cover for the presidential candidate, who till now had a similar cover by virtue of being the Bihar governor.

BSP chief Mayawati, a Dalit leader herself, said Kovind can not be opposed unless the opposition fielded a popular Dalit nominee. But he was non-committal on whether his Janata Dal-United will support Kovind. "I am personally glad he is the presidential candidate". Much of the opposition including Congress and JD (U) offered a guarded response in an apparent attempt to avoid anti-Dalit stance.

Azad would also meet RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, who leans towards the Congress. We are against it, but we will have to discuss the issue within the CPI and with other opposition parties.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Modi reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to seek the grand old party's support for Kovind. The BSP leader added that her party's stand can not be negative towards Kovind since he is a Dalit despite his association with the RSS and the BJP from the beginning.

BSP chief Mayawati said her party could not be "negative" to a Dalit candidate. "We are not commenting or giving any character certificate to anyone". The party's decision to back the NDA candidate comes as great relief to the BJP. In political career had been twice member of Parliament- Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh from 1994 - 2000 and 2000 - 2006.

A commerce graduate who also studied law at Kanpur University, he practised in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. An "RSS loyalist", he was appointed the BJP national spokesperson in 2010.

  • Joanne Flowers