Prez poll: With 63% of votes in bag, Kovind win seems certain

Kovind is widely expected to sail through the presidential election, although a contest is imminent as the opposition parties have fielded former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their nominee.

The 2017 presidential elections will not be just a contest between two contestants, it will be Dalit versus Dalit. Both Kovind and Kumar are aged 72. With Congress choosing Meira Kumar, daughter of late Babu Jagjivan Ram a Dalit strongman of Bihar against Kovind, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar finds himself in a tight spot. In 2009, she was elected as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, replacing Somnath Chatterjee. "She is an unanimous choice of the 17 parties", he added.

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.

Pawar, sources said, was finally convinced after he was told that the Opposition candidate could be announced on Friday.

Pawar proposed three names - Meira Kumar, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Bhalchandra Mungekar - all Dalit leaders - calling them "prominent personalities". "We had suggested the name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and they (BJP) said about meeting again". Second, the fact that she was "the daughter of Bihar" would "impel Nitish Kumar to re-think his decision to support Kovind who comes from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh".

"Every citizen of Telangana will remain indebted to Meira Kumar for her role in Telangana formation".

"We have already announced our support for Kovind and even signed as proposers". It was a decision taken on merit after due application of mind and full consultation within the party. He reiterated that JD (U)'s decision will have no impact on the coalition.

To finalise their strategy on Presidential election and zero on a candidate for the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Opposition parties met today at Parliament House's library. Her father was a freedom fighter.

The security cover of the opposition's presidential nominee Meira Kumar has been upgraded to the top most 'Z+' category, under which she will have round-the-clock protection of armed security personnel. "We do hope that other parties also join us", said Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

An indication that JD (U) is under pressure was evident when no representative of the party was present for the filing of nominations by the NDA's Presidential candidate Kovind. Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, DMK's Kanimozhi and National Conference's Omar Abdullah, RLD chief Ajit Singh also attended the meeting.

  • Carolyn Briggs