Ram Nath Kovind for President: Which parties support his candidature and how the scales weigh

The BJP nominated Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind for the highest office Monday, underlining his Dalit credentials.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 21, 2017 6:42 pm
ram nath kovind, ramnath kovind president, presidential election, NDA presidential candidate, BJP, congress, BSP. JDU. shiv sena Ram Nath Kovind, Bihar Governor and NDA’s presidential candidate, waves at the media as he leaves for Delhi, at Raj Bhavan in Patna on Monday (PTI Photo)

When BJP president Amit Shah announced the name of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate, he had said that there was a ‘by-and-large’ consensus within the coalition on the choice. He hoped that the leader’s Dalit credentials and his work for the upliftment of the weaker sections of society would initiate a similar consensus among other parties too. As soon as Kovind’s name was out, backchannel talks had begun among the opposition parties and chiefs of regional parties came out declaring who they intend to support. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also reached out to several chief ministers and leaders of regional parties to shore up support for the NDA candidate. He also spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Now, arithmetically, the NDA (including the Shiv Sena) is said to have close to 5.37 lakh votes in the Electoral College and does not enjoy a majority in spite of its strength in the Lok Sabha and the recent victory in Uttar Pradesh. However, the alliance is only short of around 11,000 votes that could be easily compensated by regional parties in the south such as the TRS, YSRCP and the AIADMK. Now that the Shiv Sena, BJD and JD(U) have offered support, prospects really look bright for NDA’s presidential nominee. The NDA certainly has an upper hand at the moment and is likely to get its nominee installed in the Rashtrapati Bhawan next month.

Parties that have offered support

TDP – The Telugu Desam Party, a constituent of the NDA, has offered its full support to Kovind. “You have chosen a right candidate for the top post. An intellectual with high values belonging to the Dalit community is very apt in all respects for the president’s post,” N Chandrababu Naidu, chief of the TDP, told PM Modi. A communication from the chief minister’s office said the prime minister requested Naidu to garner the support of the Trinamool Congress for the NDA candidate.

TRS – In a major boost, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi also backed Kovind for President even though the party is not a constituent of the NDA. PM Modi, who called Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao on phone, told him “as per your (the chief minister’s) suggestion, we have decided upon a Dalit candidate for the presidential post.” TRS has 82 MLAs in the Assembly, 11 Lok Sabha MPs and three Rajya Sabha MPs.

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BJD – From the eastern region, a former ally – Biju Janata Dal – came out backing the NDA candidate appreciating Kovind’s work and qualifications. “The office of the President of India is above political consideration and Biju Janata Dal wants to keep it above the politics,” BJD chief Naveen Patnaik told reporters. The BJD has 20 MPs in Lok Sabha, eight in Rajya Sabha and 117 MLAs in the state assembly.

YSRCP – Another non-NDA constituent which gave the NDA candidate a thumbs-up was the YSRCP, the Andhra Pradesh-based party. Jagan Mohan Reddy, its chief, said on Twitter, “I and my party, wholeheartedly support the candidature of Sri Ram Nath Kovind Ji, Dalit leader and a fine Statesman, as Presidential nominee.” The party has 9 MPs in Lok Sabha and one in Rajya Sabha.

LJP – The Lok Janshakti Party, a constituent of the NDA, threw its support in the ring. Ram Vilas Paswan even went to the extent of saying, “Sab ko samarthan karna chahiye, jo nahi karenge toh maana jayega ki woh Dalit virodhi hain (Everyone should support. Those who do not will be considered anti-Dalit).”

Shiv Sena: Party chief Uddhav Thackeray threw in support for Kovind on Tuesday when he said: “We held deliberations with senior party leaders and have decided to support Ram Nath Kovind’s candidature. We hope that the nation prospers during his tenure.”

JD(U): The party had earlier not indicated where its support lies but on Wednesday party leader confirmed their support to Kovind. “We decided to extend support to NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind as his tenure as Governor had been peaceful,” said KC Tyagi. Other smaller parties like the AGP, NPP and Apna Dal have also offered support.

Other smaller parties like the AGP, NPP and Apna Dal have also offered support.

Parties on the fence

BSP – The Bahujan Samaj Party, which supports Dalit leadership, stated it cannot have a negative approach to Kovind’s candidacy.  “The BSP’s stand cannot be negative towards a Dalit nominee for the post of President. Our stand will be positive provided the Opposition does not field any Dalit for the top post,” BSP chief Mayawati said in Lucknow.

SP – The Samajwadi Party has not indicated its support or displeasure to the NDA camp’s choice. Since Kovind hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur Dehat district, the party may not want to be seen as opposing him. The party will take part in the Opposition’s meeting on June 22 in which they would decide if they want to nominate a consensus candidate against Kovind.

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  1. S
    Jun 20, 2017 at 7:12 pm
    The selection of the Presidential candidate MrRam Nath Kovind was an excellent 'Master Stroke' by Amitji of the BJP. Needless to say both the top leaders of the BJP are an excellent clique.
    1. S
      Sanjay Bhattacharya
      Jun 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm
      what about AIDMK? The report does not say anything in particular about AIDMK.
      1. T
        T DUTTA
        Jun 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm
        1. S
          Sankaran Krishnan
          Jun 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm
          It seems the PM Modi also fallen prey to the caste to select a candidate for the India's top post which should be above Caste and Politics. Though I am not personally against the candidature it is not ideal to promote caste at the highest level to garner the support of Dalits or for that matter whoever belongs any par of the community. He/She must be selected based on merits, experience and exposure in Public Life or else something the candidate might have achieved Nationally and if not a Senior Politician, the practice followed by the Congress party and to make the post dummy as was seen during Zail singh, Pratiba Patil !!! Now let us see how Vice President post is selected - party veteran, Bureaucrat or from Minority community for the sake of votes and nothing else ????
          1. P
            Pradeep Phadke
            Jun 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm
            Udhhav is likely to do harakiri and in the bargain SS will be out of central and state Govts and the party will face split.
            1. G
              George Cruz
              Jun 20, 2017 at 4:15 pm
              The BJP's motto is and has been to select honest, hardworking, and qualified candidates irrespective of religion/caste and this Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind is one amongst them. Ram Nath Kovind is highly educated and was a lawyer who practised in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court for 16 years. When asked by other Dalits for handouts and favors Ram Nath Kovind told "Just like I achieved success on my own, all of you should work hard too".
              1. R
                Real Indian
                Jun 20, 2017 at 4:38 pm
                Come on the Ghost of BJP IT CELL. Feku and Alu Shah are criminals and murderers and s of highest order and who are leading the BJP today. What qualified candidates you are talking about? Shame on you for having sold your soul for few hundred rupees for commenting. Go and lick the chaddi of Mohan Bhagwat. That is what you were born for and will live for.
                1. E
                  Educated Citizen
                  Jun 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm
                  HAHAHAH.... Lagata hai tumhe Sirf Congress ki chatana acchha lagata hai.. Wake up as you will have to bare with BJP Govt for one more term..
                  1. S
                    Jul 16, 2017 at 6:39 pm
                    You are a deshdrohi calling my prime minister criminal. I always said India has 3 enemies, Pakistan, China and Congress Party. Since you called my prime minister Feku, Diggy Dog, you are a congress deshdrohi
                2. S
                  Jun 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm
                  65 years before many forward looking politicians and individuals belonging to forward class fought for and succeeded in bringing Reservations through Indian Cons ution for the uplift of those discriminated on 'caste lines'. But today even after 67 years, people having got their lot improvrd over others through Reservation, wants more and more of the reservation benefits to continue and even threaten others to submission using the draconian SC/ST act. This has created a 'new type of privileged class ' who cleverly make use of the benefits of discrimination based on 'caste'. Mean and backward looking political forces exploit their sentiment by doling out more and more benefits to this 'new type of privileged class of people' to strengthen their 'Vote Bank' while promoting casteism. India is pushed to a deplorable situation through caste politics and perpetuate and strengthen caste divide among Indians .
                  1. Y
                    Yashwant Singh
                    Jun 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm
                    He (1) practiced law in the High Court and Supreme Court (2) Has been a Rajya Sabha member for two terms (3) is Governor of a State (4) has represented India in United nations (5) is calm and dignified unlike Mayavati (remember his being denied entry as a visitor to the President's Shimla Resort and not making a fuss about it). WHAT ELSE SOME PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR.
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