Ram Nath Kovind, Bihar Governor and a Dalit, is NDA's Presidential nominee

Addressing the 51st Foundation Day function of Sena in suburban Matunga Monday evening, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said his party would not back Kovind if he had been chosen with an intention to garner dalit votes.

The support was confirmed to media by a JDU MLA, Ratnesh Sada. Kovind was the former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha.

However, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was more clear when he said there would be a "strong candidate" against Kovind.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Keshav Mahanta, who is also the Assam Science, Technology and IT Minister, said that the party would vote for Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's presidential candidate.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed. With the support of regional parties including Naveen Patnaik's BJD and Tamil Nadu's AIADMK, they are placed to win an election if it should take place on July 17 (votes will be counted three days later).

Ending days of speculation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate.

Security personnel however had sent him back saying he did not have the requisite permission from the President's office. In 2012, it had supported Congress led UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee defying the then coalition partner BJP's pick P A Sangma for the post of ceremonial head of the country. They have suggested a good name.

Agarwal, however, pointed out that the larger opposition unity will remain unaffected even if the parties do not stay together for the Presidential polls.

Thackeray said the decision to support Kovind was arrived at after holding discussions with Sena leaders. By backing Kovind this time, the Shiv Sena has gone back to the NDA fold on selection of presidential nominee after 15 years. The names the Congress could possibly propose are Meira Kumar and Sushil Kumar Shinde, both Dalit leaders. He said that as this is a political election, Opposition should field their own candidate.

  • Leroy Wright