Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called a meeting with senior JDU leaders on June 21 to discuss extension of support to Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind who has been picked as NDA’s presidential nominee.
Soon after BJP president Amit Shah had announced Kovind’s name at a press conference on Monday, the chief minister met with him at Raj Bhavan in Patna. He later told reporters he was happy that Kovind is the presidential nominee. “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,” Kumar said.
Kumar went on to say he will soon hold a meeting with Opposition leaders over the issue of the presidential nominee. “It will not be fair to answer this question as discussion will soon take place among Opposition leaders on the issue of a candidate for the President’s post.”
Kovind, a 71-year old Dalit lawyer-turned-politician from Kanpur, came as a surprise choice from NDA for the President’s post. The party started backchannel talks with opposition parties soon after the name was announced. PM Modi reached out to several chief ministers and leaders of regional parties. He also spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
The BSP, which has always been supportive of Dalit leadership, also indicated its support to Kovind’s candidature. Speaking to media in Lucknow, party chief Mayawati said, “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.” It still remains to be seen how most Opposition parties respond to Kovind’s nomination.