THE BJP is wooing and is banking on the support of several Independent lawmakers in different states as well as fence-sitting groups from different parties to ensure victory with a bigger margin for NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. Besides six Independent MPs in Rajya Sabha, BJP leaders said they are expecting six Trinamool MLAs and two Congress legislators from Tripura to vote for Kovind in the July 17 election.
The Congress has only three MLAs in the Tripura Assembly, and two of them are expected to reach Guwahati to announce their support to Kovind, sources in BJP said. Of 10 Congress MLAs elected in Tripura Vidhan Sabha elections in 2013, seven have already left the party.
BJP leaders said the NDA’s target is to get 70 per cent votes in the electoral college of MPs and MLAs. The party expects all six Independent members in Rajya Sabha to vote for Kovind: Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an investor who is part of the NDA in Kerala; Sanjay Dattatraya Kakade, a Maharashtra businessman who has joined BJP; Subhash Chandra, Zee Group’s chairman who was elected to the Upper House with BJP support; and industrialist Parimal Nathwani are four near-certain votes, party leaders said.
Expelled Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and A V Swamy of Odisha are two other Independent RS MPs.
At present, in the middle of his visit to different states to undertake campaigning among the legislators, Kovind will be in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, and in Karnataka the day after. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao will accompany him in Andhra.
On Thursday, Kovind will fly to Guwahati, and then on to Arunachal Pradesh, a BJP leader said. He will return to the Assam capital the same day and halt for the night. He is supposed to meet lawmakers from Tripura and Mizoram in Guwahati. He is scheduled to visit Nagaland and Manipur on Friday.