Few in Opposition back Congress, Left on contesting against Kovind

Former Union Minister and RJD leader Jaiprakash Yadav declined to reveal his party stand on fielding an Opposition candidate, saying everything will be clear tomorrow at the Opposition meeting.

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Updated: June 22, 2017 5:34 am
Ram Nath Kovind, nominated presidential candidate of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures as he attends an International Yoga Day event in New Delhi(Reuters photo)

On the eve of its meeting to take a call on fielding a candidate for the presidential elections, the Opposition was a divided house Wednesday. There were visible ruptures in the socialist block within over naming a candidate against NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and the Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress, keen on a contest, had very few backers.

Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Naveen Patnaik’s BJD have decided to back Kovind’s candidature and there are similar indications from the Janata Dal (S) and INLD. The SP and RJD, however, appear inclined for a contest.

Sources said Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, spoke to former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Tuesday and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad made a similar phone call Wednesday. Both urged Deve Gowda to attend the Opposition meeting on June 22 but the former Prime Minister excused himself, saying he would be at a function organised by the Congress in Karnataka where he would share the dias with Congress leaders M Veerappa Moily and Oscar Fernandes.

Deve Gowda asked his party national spokesperson Danish Ali to attend the meeting. Asked about the JD(S) stand, Ali told The Indian Express: “We have not yet decided anything. We will make our stand clear tomorrow at the Opposition meeting. If we have to fight (the NDA candidate), there should be someone of stature, reliability and integrity.”

A source in the JD(S), however, conceded it has become “difficult” for the party to oppose Kovind’s candidature because he is a Dalit nominee. The Congress, the JD (S) source said, had not backed the idea of fielding an Opposition candidate in 2002 against NDA presidential nominee A P J Abdul Kalam.

“Only Left and JD(S) had then put up freedom fighter Lakshmi Sehgal as a candidate against Kalam. At that time, Congress found it difficult to oppose Kalam. When Kalam was proposed by NDA, we had advised Congress to jointly put up another Muslim candidate, A M Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India, but perhaps the Congress did not want to antagonise the would-be President,” a JD (S) leader said.

Former Union Minister and RJD leader Jaiprakash Yadav declined to reveal his party stand on fielding an Opposition candidate, saying everything will be clear tomorrow at the Opposition meeting. Both RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Jaiprakash Yadav will be at the meeting.

A source in RJD, however, gave clear indication of the thinking in the party saying “there is no question of an ideological compromise”. At the earlier meeting of the Opposition committee on a presidential nominee, Lalu Prasad had backed the idea of an Opposition candidate.

INLD Lok Sabha MP Dushyant Chautala, grandson of Om Prakash Chautala, told The Indian Express that his party has called a meeting of its executive body on Friday, a day after the Opposition meeting, to discuss the presidential polls. “We will see what kind of Opposition candidate is suggested at tomorrow’s meeting. Then we will decide at our party meeting on Friday… whether the Opposition candidate is such that we can back,” he said.

He also pointed out that the BJP is in a position to win the election. He cited the support it already has from other parties. Asked should it be assumed that INLD is getting ready to support the NDA pick, Chautala said: “I will not comment on that.” After a meeting between Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Om Prakash Chautala, the BJP indicated that Chautala gave a “positive” response.

An NCP meeting in the national capital to take a final call has been postponed as Sharad Pawar is still in Mumbai. The party will make its stand clear Thursday. “So far, nothing has been decided,” NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar said.

Naresh Agrawal from SP said every time elections are not fought just for wining but also to give a message. “Why do we fight in Parliament on issues? There are a number of things in which a message is given. A candidate was also put up when NDA had fielded Abdul Kalam. Was the election then fought to win polls,” he asked.

JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said: “Our decision to support Kovind’s candidature in the presidential election is an isolated incident. This will not affect the overall Opposition unity and we are for larger Opposition unity and will always be there.”

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  1. S
    saurabhverma
    Jun 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    Looks like congress has forgotten the art of basic Politics! Had they declared Meira Kumar as a candidate earlier, BJP would've been under pressure as they would be debating between looking like a Congress follower (if they had a 'dalit' nominee) or anti-dalit (if they did not).
    Reply
    1. T
      Tummalapalli Venkateswara Rao
      Jun 22, 2017 at 7:40 am
      Better the Congress nominates Meera Kumar as Congress president, and Sushil kumar Shinde as Vice president and both Sonia and Rahul step down from their posts,
      Reply
      1. R
        Raj V
        Jun 22, 2017 at 6:18 am
        LEft will be decimated by 2019.
        Reply
        1. S
          s s nair
          Jun 22, 2017 at 5:35 am
          This is because of several reasons. One reason, the opposition refuse to be with farmers, they refuse to be with Dalits, they refused to fight against demonetisation, they refused to be with the masses, they refuse to be with the J and K people. They all want to show to the world for now they are with Modi.
          Reply
          1. A
            Anjam Desi
            Jun 22, 2017 at 4:44 am
            Another example of Congress and likes fielding a candidate just for the heck of it. Unless it is scamming the country or joining hands with anti-Indian elements, Congress has no ideas. The party is becoming more irrelevant with every passing day.
            Reply
            1. G
              George Cruz
              Jun 22, 2017 at 3:34 am
              The truth is that the congress/communists are caught with their pants down with the nomination of the Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind by the BJP because the congress and the communists have been demonizing the BJP/RSS as the enemy of the Dalits. The development oriented BJP always selects highly capable educated leaders irrespective one's religion/caste. Will the congress party be wiped out in the next election because their opposition to endorse a Dalit leader?????? Yes, It is just like nailing a coffin on congress party coffin.
              Reply
              1. S
                S.P.Chakravarty
                Jun 22, 2017 at 2:10 am
                The BJP has played a brilliant stroke. The Opposition must now gracefully accept Govind. It has no choice if it is not perceived to be disruptive for the sake of being disruptive.
                Reply
                1. K
                  kk
                  Jun 22, 2017 at 1:20 am
                  Best candidate would be Rahul Gadha
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    Mullah Jihadi Upset
                    Jun 22, 2017 at 4:31 am
                    Kejriwal kutta, even better.
                    Reply
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