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India´s ruling party picks Dalit as presidential candidate

India´s ruling party picks Dalit as presidential candidate

"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.

"Kovindji has worked for several years for the backward classes' welfare", BJP chief Amit Shah said while announcing his name soon after the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting held for the goal at the party head office.

To ensure agreement over his candidature, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked on the phone with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and previous prime minister Manmohan Singh to impart BJP's decision to them.

Modi also said that Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution would benefit the nation. Based on BJD's request many political parties including BJP had supported him. "I am hopeful that there will be a consensus on his name", BJP president Amit Shah said at a press conference here.

Meanwhile, CPI has said considering Kovind's links with the RSS, Opposition should contest the election with all their might by putting up a strong candidate. "An intellectual with high values belonging to the Dalit community is very apt in all respects for the president's post", N Chandrababu Naidu, chief of the TDP, told PM Modi.

In Uttar Pradesh, even the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samj Party have been critical of the decision, particularly because NDA leaders have tried to play up Kovind's credentials as a son of UP.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: "There are other big Dalit leaders in India".

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Following the announcement, most Opposition leaders indicated that they will announce the name of their own candidate after a meeting of UPA members on 22 June. Few parties would want to be seen opposing a Dalit candidate for the post of President of India.

He said the BJP leaders had promised to seek the opposition' consent on the Presidential candidate which did not happen.

However, the Dalit (SC) community leaders in Gujarat feel this is a calculated move by the government head of Assembly elections to pacify the community which is enraged over atrocity issues.

NCP leader Majeed Memon said that Mayawati can not openly oppose Kovind as she has to take care of vote bank. "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all Opposition parties on June 22", Azad told newspersons here.

Appointed as Bihar governor in 2015, Mr Kovind has remained a non-controversial figure, who headed the BJP Dalit Morcha (1998-2002), served as the party's national spokesman and was the All-India Koli Samaj's president. "A meeting will be held soon to discuss the same", he said.

"They did not come back to the opposition and announced the candidate", he said.

Voting for the presidential election is scheduled on July 17, while the counting will take place on July 20, four days before Mukherjee's term ends.


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