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June 19, 2017

NDA's Prez pick: Nitish happy, Mayawati positive; Cong calls it 'unilateral decision'

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New Delhi, Jun 19: The BJP's pick for Presidential nominee seems to have left the opposition divided with at least two prominent leaders welcoming decision to nominate Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as NDA's candidate for President's post.ram-nath

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday expressed happiness over Ram Nath Kovind's candidature for the President's post while BSP chief Mayawati making it clear that her party's stand will be positive provided opposition does not field any dalit for the top post.

"Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor's post. His was an ideal relation with the state government," Nitish Kumar said after meeting Kovind at Raj Bhavan.

Nitish congratulated Kovind, a dalit leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party, on his nomination as the National Democratic Alliance candidate, and added that "I am personally glad he is the presidential candidate".

However, Nitish did not commit on his party's support for the NDA nominee.

"It is difficult to say at this point of time. I had talks with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on this issue. We will discuss the issue later and decide," Nitish said.

The Congress, however, spurned the BJP's appeal for consensus on its choice for President and said the opposition would take a call on contesting the election after a meeting on June 22.

The BJP has taken a "unilateral decision", Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said soon after the announcement of Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA's candidate for President's post.

"Congress does not want to comment on this issue as we want to take a unanimous decision with all other opposition parties on the presidential elections. The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22," Azad told reporters here.

Terming the BJP's efforts to reach out to the opposition through its senior leaders as a "formality and a PR exercise", Azad said the ruling party should have built consensus before announcing the candidate.

"But they informed us after announcing this decision so there is no scope for consensus now... we were not expecting this from the ruling party. But it is their will, they are free to take a one-sided unilateral decision," Azad added.

No names were discussed when senior BJP leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, the Congress leader said.

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Asked to comment on the BJP fielding a Dalit candidate for the top constitutional post, Azad said, "...I don't want to comment on this...I don't want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate."

He added that minorities, backwards and dalits were not priorities for the BJP-led government. Atrocities on Dalits in Saharanpur were a clear example of this.

Discussing whether Nitish Kumar would attend the June 22 meeting, Azad said he had himself called the Bihar chief minister who had assured him that there would be somebody from his Janata Dal-United.

NDA's Prez pick: Nitish happy, Mayawati positive; Cong calls it 'unilateral decision' 

Comments

Shankar - Monday, 19 June 2017

This was a shakuni move by BJP.
Amidst all the anti-dalit atrocities, nominating a dalit candidate would have been an obvious strategy by the opposition. But the NDA foresaw it and played the move themselves.
The opposition is now left with either agreeing to this or nominating a muslim candidate (depending on support from others in the alliance).

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