BJP choice takes Oppn. by surprise

Posted June 20, 2017

Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson Nupur Sharma on Monday night registered a police complaint against journalist Rana Ayyub for what she called a "defamatory, hate-filled and derogatory" tweet about the National Democratic Alliance's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind.

"We have decided that Ram Nath Kovind will be NDA Presidential candidate", BJP president Amit Shah said after a almost two-hour meeting here of the party's Parliamentary Board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders.

"Modiji has spoken to the country's opposition Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and apprised them of the BJP's choice", he added.

& worked for poor & marginalised.

"With his illustrious background in the legal arena, Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation".

Prime Minister Modi also spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswamy over NDA's presidential candidate pick.

But political observers said it could be hard for rival parties to oppose a Dalit candidate. He also dialed BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, who said he will revert back after talking to his party.

Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader Mayawati gave lukewarm response to the choice Dalit leader.

On two occasions in the past, the Shiv Sena had deviated from the NDA line by supporting UPA candidates: in 2007 when Pratibha Patil won the election and in 2012 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee was elected.

Thackeray told Shah June 18 that the Shiv Sena - the BJP's oldest and most prominent ally - would make a decision only after the BJP's presidential nominee was named.

Earlier in the day, the NDA announced Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind as its candidate for the upcoming Presidential polls.

Discussing whether Nitish Kumar would attend the June 22 meeting, Azad said he had himself called the Bihar chief minister who had assured him that there would be somebody from his Janata Dal-United.

Banerjee said senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani or Sushma Swaraj could have been made candidates. "We were not expecting this from the ruling party", he said. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expressed happiness that the governor of his state has been chosen.

The BJP had caught the opposition napping although it is not unusual for parties to delay announcements in the search for a consensus candidate as parliament and 29 State Legislatures are involved.

A lawyer by profession, Kovind had also been BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha chief (1998-2002) and president of the All-India Koli Samaj. He was, however, non-committal about his party's support for the NDA Presidential nominee.

He said the meetings with opposition parties was a formality.

Kovind then drove down to Shah's residence where he was greeted by senior BJP leaders.