Kovind also said that he had ceased to belong to any political party after he became governor of Bihar in 2015.
New Delhi: The NDA’s candidate for the post of the 14th president of the country, Ram Nath Kovind, reached out to the opposition soon after filing his nomination papers today and said the post of president is above party politics. His comment came after Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha speaker and daughter of Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, was chosen as the opposition’s presidential candidate yesterday.
The 71-year-old, after filing his nomination papers, said that he had ceased to belong to any political party after he became the governor of Bihar in 2015. “Ever since I became a governor, I don’t belong to any political party. The post of president is above party politics. I am thankful to everybody for their support,” he told reporters.
Kovind was accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, party veterans L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, chief ministers of all BJP and ally-ruled states (barring Goa and Jammu and Kashmir), Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and Tamil Nadu chief minister E. Palaniswami as he filed his nomination.
A two-time member of the Rajya Sabha, Kovind has been in politics for the last 26 years and has an edge in the presidential polls since the NDA constituents have 48.6% of votes in the electoral college that will elect the next president. With several regional parties like JD(U), AIADMK (both Amma and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma factions), Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samiti lending their support to his candidature, he looks set to securing around 60% votes. However, in the presidential polls, parties cannot issue a whip and cross-voting is often seen.
With Meira chosen as Kovind’s opponent, the BSP and Trinamool Congress have decided to stick to the opposition camp. Barring JD(U), which chose to back Kovind, all other 17 opposition parties that had come together on the issue of selection of presidential candidate stayed united in nominating her.
The meeting of the opposition, chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was held on Thursday at the Parliament Library. NCP leader Sharad Pawar – who was initially in favour of former home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s candidature for president – proposed Meira’s name in the meeting.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, who flew in for the meeting after attending a court hearing in Patna, said, Kumar was the “beti of Bihar” (Bihar’s daughter). His intention was clearly to urge JD(U) to reconsider its decision to back Kovind.
Lalu called Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s decision a “historical blunder” and said the RJD would support Meira as it believes in the politics of ideology.
His assertions, however, may not be able to change JD(U)’s stance on the issue. Party representative Pavan Kumar Varma said, “Our decision to support Kovind remains unchanged. It was a decision taken on merit after due application of mind and full consultation within the party… We will stick with his choice.” He also declared that Kovind was the “president-in-waiting” due to the way the numbers had stacked up and Kumar at best would be able to put up a “token” fight.