Hours after the ruling NDA announced him as its presidential candidate, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind said he was thankful to the people of Bihar for their support. Kovind left for New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a commercial flight in the evening, Raj Bhawan Public Relations Officer (PRO) Sunil Pathak said. “I thank the people of Bihar for their support,” he said. Meanwhile, there were celebrations outside the BJP office on the announcement of the name.
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Earlier, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid a courtesy visit to Kovind at the Raj Bhawan after the latter’s name was announced by BJP president Amit Shah as NDA’s presidential candidate
Other political leaders have also reacted to Kovind’s nomination as the NDA’s presidential face. Congress refused to comment on the decision but alleged that the BJP had taken the decision ‘unilaterally’.
“Unilaterally they (BJP) took a decision, but it is up to them. One of our colleague said it was a PR exercise… Without revealing the name how will you build a consensus? On the presidential nominee announced by the NDA, we have nothing to say. We don’t want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate…The opposition was given to understand that they will be taken into confidence,” Congress spokesperson Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
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CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury termed the selection of Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind as a political decision by the NDA. Speaking to ANI, Yechury said,” Ram Nath Kovind ji RSS ke Dalit sakha ke pramukh thay, wo ek rajneeti hua na. Ye seedhi seedhi rajneetik takrao hai (Ram Nath Kovind was the president of the Dalit wing of RSS. This seems like a direct political clash).”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the chorus saying there are “other big Dalit leaders” in the country. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, was the lone voice in the Opposition who did not express any reservations against Kovind’s candidature and said that he had done “exemplary work (as Governor of Bihar), worked with impartiality, maintained an ideal relationship with the state government”. Telangana Chief Minister and TRS Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao extended his support to NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind after speaking to PM Modi.
Meanwhile, NDA partner Shiv Sena said Kovind’s name was not discussed with the allies. JDU leader Sharad Yadav said the opposition will decide its candidate after the meeting.