BJP president Amit Shah, while holding a press meet on Monday, said that the decision party has connected with every one of its partners, including Shiv Sena, and Kovind will be NDA's decision for the nation's top post.
"We have decided that Ram Nath Kovind will be NDA Presidential candidate", BJP president Amit Shah said after a almost two-hour meeting here of the party's Parliamentary Board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders.
The selection of Dalit leader for President Post is a move by the Bharatiya Janata Party to consolidate its growing support among backward castes and poorer voters.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah managed to convince the RSS leadership with a strategy that could see the opposition split on choosing the next president.
BJP's pick of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as a presidential candidate has drawn mixed reactions across the political spectrum. He devoted his life to public service & worked for poor & marginalized. "With his illustrious legal background in the legal area, Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation", the PM said.
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With both the names suggested by it - RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and noted agriculturist M S Swaminathan - rejected, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the Dalit candidate was chosen merely for vote-bank politics. "So, BJD has chose to extend its support to Kovind", he said.
Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party will not comment on this decision yet.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati also expressed dissent over the decision saying that she is not satisfied with Kovind's political ideology, but can not reject his Dalit background.
On two previous occasions, the Shiv Sena has parted the with National Democratic Alliance and supported United Progressive Alliance candidates: in 2007 when Pratibha Patil won the election and in 2012 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee was elected.
It should be noted that Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind has been decided as NDA's presidential candidate.
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He said the BJP leaders had promised to seek the opposition' consent on the Presidential candidate which did not happen.
He said Monday's decision on the candidature Kovind has "factored in those views and suggestions".
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hailed Kovind's role as state Governor but remained non-committal on supporting him.
"During the meeting (with Naidu and Rajnath), they wanted a consensus but did not come up with a name". While, Opposition parties, media flayed government over the provisions of the new prohibition law, the Governor gave his assent. He, however, said a detailed discussion would be held on the matter within the JD (U). He was the leader of the Dalit Morcha of the BJP, so they have made him the presidential candidate.
Barring the TRS and the BJD which expressed support to Kovind, all other non-BJP parties accused the ruling party of unilateralism and will meet here on Thursday to finalise their strategy for the July 17 battle. The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued the notification in this regard and the process of the nomination will culminate on June 28.
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