20 June, 2017
"If they have declared Kovind's name for getting Dalit votes, then we are not interested". It expects to get the support of all the NDA allies, including the more rebellious Shiv Sena and the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti and sail through with the AIADMK and possibly the Biju Janata Dal preferring to stay on the side of the ruling party, rather than being drawn into the vortex of a fractious Opposition.
"Uddhavji told him that he will convene a meeting of the party leaders to arrive on a decision and convey our answer to him in one-two days", he said.
"Of course, we did not suggest any name". "I hope all will agree to the name", he said at a press conference.
"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. "Amit Shah called up Uddhavji after the NDA's presidential candidate was decided in the BJP's Parliamentary Board meeting".
Shiv Sena's support is crucial for NDA as the party has a total vote pool of around 25, 893.
This time round, the Sena stance on Kovind's candidature would be considered crucial as it is a partner both at the centre and in Maharashtra.
Hours after the BJP announced Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as its Presidential candidate, Gopalkrishna Gandhi - seen as the Left's choice for the top post- seemed to take himself out of contention. "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22", he said. He, however, said a detailed discussion would be held on the matter within the JD (U).
"Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country". They informed us after announcing this decision so there is no scope for consensus now. BJP's disgruntled ally, Shiv Sena, also sang the same tune, and is yet to decide on whether it will support Kovind.
A Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, age 71, was a Rajya Sabha member between 1994 and 2006 from Uttar Pradesh. "On the other hand, if the party abstains from voting then it will create troubles for BJP".
"We don't want to talk about his (Kovind's) personality but will talk on merit".
"Despite having a majority, we reached out to opposition parties".
The Opposition that had tentatively started speaking about a unified approach is today bereft of ideas and as a senior leader not wanting to go on the record at this stage said, "bereft of unity as well".
Meanwhile, BJP celebrated the candidature of Kovind as presidential candidate at the state headquarters here with workers and activists distributing candies amid drum beats and bursting of crackers.
Nitish Kumar called on Kovind in Patna and said he is "personally glad" over his candidature, but was non-commital on Janata Dal-United's support to his candidature. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor's post.
Sonia Gandhi had taken the initiative to forge a consensus on the opposition's candidate for the presidential poll.