Presidential election: Nitish Kumar's JD(U) will support BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind

Opposition parties, completely bowled over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise choice of a Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind as the presidential candidate from NDA, are said to be redrawing their strategy to put up a consensus candidate who would give a semblance of fight to the NDA.

On Wednesday, JD (U)'s core committee chaired by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will meet in Patna to discuss party's stand on Kovind.

According to sources, Nitish Kumar and the ruling Janata Dal-United party will support the centre's presidential candidate, breaking ranks with the 18-member bloc of the opposition.

On Monday, BJP President Amit Shah announced Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as their party's nominee for the post of President of India. "As the party has made a decision to support Kovind, there is no need for it to attend the meeting of opposition parties being held in New delhi", said JD-U spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan. "There were about 60 JD (U) MLAs present in the meeting and they echoed the chief minister's view", Sada said.

Azad later clarified that the Congress does not have any issue with Ram Nath Kovind but the BJP's ideology. He is Bihar's first Governor who has been nominated for this post.

JD (U) has been a part of the opposition's joint initiative on the presidential elections. "We had a meeting of Shiv Sena leaders after which we have chose to support NDA candidate", Thackeray said.

The development comes before an Opposition meeting on Thursday.

When asked if Sena will back opposition parties if they announce the name of either Bhagwat or Swaminathan, Thackeray said, "I had announced names of Mohan Bhagwat and Swaminathan a week back".

To counter Kovind, the Left has suggested two Dalit candidates, namely former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, both candidates from Congress.

In a virtual U-turn, Shiv Sena, a key constituent of the BJP-led coalition, Tuesday extended its support for the NDA's presidential choice.

It set off speculations that Yadav was personally not happy with JD (U)'s decision to support Kovind.

  • Leroy Wright