New Delhi: The NDA’s presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, has created an “uncomfortable” situation for the 17-party Opposition conglomerate and forced it to rethink its strategy.
The Opposition was in a tizzy on Monday, trying to find and field a dalit candidate to counter the ruling party’s nominee. The names doing the rounds are of former Speaker Meira Kumar and B.R. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar. Sources said that a tribal candidate was also being mulled. The Opposition camp had earlier planned to field former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who is Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson.
The rethink is necessary as at least two parties — the Janata Dal (United) and BSP chief Mayawati — have indicated that they would find it difficult to oppose a dalit candidate.
Ms Mayawati said that her party could not be “negative” to a dalit candidate, but she stopped short of expressing support for Mr Kovind, saying her party would be “positive” only if the Opposition did not field a dalit candidate.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar rushed to meet Mr Kovind, who is the Governor of his state, and maintained that he was suitable candidate for the post.
As soon as Mr Kovind’s candidature was announced by the BJP, the Congress was the first to react, saying that the decision had been taken by the BJP “unilaterally” and that they had not been consulted.
Though information and broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and home minister Rajnath Singh had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, they had not discussed any names. They had merely asked Mrs Gandhi for her party’s support for the presidential elections.
“We had expected that before taking a final decision, they would have spoken with us,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, and added that a decision on the matter would be taken by all the Opposition parties together in the next meeting on June 22.