In a setback to the Opposition’s plan to field a candidate for the presidential candidate, the Janata Dal United (JDU) is likely to back the NDA pick Ram Nath Kovind, news channel ABP new reported on Wednesday. The channel confirmed that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told the party lawmakers to vote for Kovind in the upcoming president election on July 17.
Speaking with news agency ANI, JDU MLA and party chief whip Ratnesh Sada said:”We have decided to support Ram Nath Kovind.” The party MLAs gathered for a meeting in Patna to discuss the issue.
The Bihar Chief Minister is likely to announce the party’s decision later at a press conference today evening. It has already been conveyed to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and JDU’s alliance partner and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, according to news channel NDTV.
Earlier, Nitish stopped short of confirming his support to the former Bihar Governor. After meeting him at the Raj Bhavan on Monday, Nitish told reporters: “In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India.”
BSP supremo Mayawati also did not explicitly oppose Kovind’s selection. “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,” she said.
The Opposition parties will be meeting at the Parliament library on June 22 at around 4.30 pm to deliberate on Kovind’s candidature and, possibly, pick a consensus candidate. Election for the country’s top post will only be necessitated if the Opposition decides to field a candidate of their choice. On Tuesday, CPI leader D Raja told news channel NDTV that they are averse to nominating Dalit leaders Meira Kumar or Sushil Kumar Shinde. He, however, maintained that the Left is waiting for the Congress to decide on the issue. It is a battle of ideologies, we will field a candidate, Raja was quoted as saying.
With President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ending on July 24, the presidential election will be held on July 17 and the results will be declared on July 28.