NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind will meet Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar on Wednesday to seek the support of lawmakers from the state for the July 17 election. Kovind will address a meeting of MPs and MLAs from the state at Mufti’s residence, party sources said. He will be accompanied by Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. All legislators from the PDP and BJP will vote for him, a source said confidently.
Mufti was expected to be present when Kovind filed his nomination on June 23, but had to cancel her trip to New Delhi after DSP Ayub Pandith was lynched in Srinagar.
Kovind has already met lawmakers from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand as part of his campaign. He is expected to bag almost 70 per cent of votes in the electoral college.
The former Bihar Governor, who was born into a Dalit family in a village in UP’s Kanpur Dehat district, is scheduled to meet NDA MPs and MLAs from Haryana and Punjab in Panchkula on Thursday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP general secretary Anil Jain will accompany him, sources said.
The BJP hopes the INLD, led by former Haryana Chief Minister O P Chautala, will support him. “Their response was positive,” said a BJP leader, referring to Naidu’s conversation with INLD leaders.
Kovind will meet lawmakers of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry in Chennai. Puducherry’s All India NR Congress (AINRC) has extended support to Kovind; the BJP has one MLA in Kerala Assembly.
According to sources, 28 parties have extended support to the Kovind. Besides the NDA constituents, TRS, YSRCP, AIADMK, BJD and JD(U) have decided to back Kovind. “We are expecting that in the next few days, two or three more parties will come forward,” a BJP leader said. “Some Independent legislators have also promised their votes.”
With over 62 per cent of the votes assured, Kovind’s election as the next President is almost certain.