Despite JD (U), Oppn parties to meet to decide on candidate against Kovind

Despite JD (U), Oppn parties to meet to decide on candidate against Kovind


Despite JD (U), Oppn parties to meet to decide on candidate against Kovind


New Delhi:  Smarting from the blow with the Nitish Kumar-led JD (U) deciding to back NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the Presidential election, the Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, would be meeting in the capital to chalk out their final strategy here today. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar emerged as the front-runner to be the Opposition candidate after speculation that the issue figured in her discussion with Congress President Sonia Gandhi last night. BSP chief Mayawati had welcomed the candidature of Kovind, but also said that she would vote against the NDA nominee, if Opposition too had a better Dalit candidate. However, Nitish Kumar's decision has come as a setback, even as a senior Congress leader called it a decision in "isolation". The Congress leader also has said that the JD (U) decision was a real surprise as the Nitish Kumar-led outfit was the "principal initiator" to the unity move against the BJP-led NDA for the Presidential elections. In fact, at one point of time, senior JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav's name was also in consideration. Congress Spokesman Manish Tewari, however, indicated that Congress was keen for a contest and would be even open to fielding a non-Congress candidate, because opposition unity was of prime concern. With possible support of JD (U), the vote share of NDA in the electoral college now go up to almost 63 per cent. "As the party has decided to support Kovind, there is no need for it to attend the meeting of Opposition parties," JD (U) Spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan said. The party conveyed its decision to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whose party is an alliance partner, along with the Congress in the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar. The Left parties led by CPI (M) remained determined to give a fight, calling it an "ideological battle". After Mr Kumar's JD (U) and Naveen Patnaik's BJD decided to back Mr Kovind's candidature, the Opposition parties were not sure of support from the H D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (S) and Om Prakash Chautala's INLD. CPI leader D Raja merely said, "We have a meeting. Let us see how many parties are going to attend". After Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to Om Prakash Chautala, the BJP camp claimed that the response from the former Haryana Chief Minister was also "positive". Mr Kovind's chances to win the election brightened after several non-NDA parties backed him. Even Shiv Sena - which in last two Presidential polls in 2007 and 2012 - went against BJP - this time has announced support in favour of Mr Kovind. The NDA vote share in the electoral college, including the Shiv Sena and the PDP of Jammu and Kashmir, which has extended support to the BJP choice, is about 48.9 per cent and with the outside support from TRS (2 per cent) AIADMK (5.39 per cent) YSR Congress (1.53 per cent) and BJD (2.99 per cent), the NDA's support would touch 63 per cent.

Share it
Top