Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Not a tall Dalit leader, says Mamata


JDU leader Sharad Yadav said: "We will discuss about the Presidential candidate in the meeting of Opposition parties".

"Since Mayawati has to take care of her Dalit vote bank, she can not openly oppose a Dalit candidate".

Kovind belongs to the Dalit community Koli and had worked extensively in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and also has the backing of BJP's ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Shah has aimed to break opposition unity, putting in a bind not just SP and BSP in UP but also JDU and RJD in Bihar. The Opposition is expected to formulate their strategy and come up with their name in a day or two, Congress sources told the Free Press Journal. "The opposition will meet on June 22 - only then we can announce our decision", she said. He headed the BJP's Dalit wing for three years from 1999. "I don't want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate". The 71-year-old former lawyer is likely to file his nomination on June 23 and if elected, he will be the second Dalit President after K R Narayanan. But, born in UP's Kanpur, Kovind's name hadn't found mention in the various lists of possible candidates.

He said he was a "small citizen" entrusted with a big responsibility. However, "decision on the issue of presidential candidate will be taken by his party high command". Although Kumar did say that he couldn't say anything right now as it was too early, he did mention that it was a "matter of happiness" for him, personally.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday proposed the name of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA nominee for the new President. It has also pushed the Opposition into a Catch-22 situation as voting against him would be seen to be opposing a Dalit leader. The office of the President is a key post. She said that someone of the stature of President Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani ji may have been made the candidate.

West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's statement also did not appear in Kovind's favour.

He said it was the NDA's proposal that it would get back to the opposition after zeroing on a candidate.

"Although Kovind has been associated with the RSS and the BJP from the beginning but since he is a Dalit, our party's stand towards him can not be negative. This is a straight political tussle", he said. "We hope he will be the unanimous candidate for the election", Shah said. For example, it will be hard for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who gets along reasonably well with Kovind to oppose a Dalit face. "So what if Kovind is from the RSS? So, immediately Chief Minister KCR extended his party TRS' support to NDA", Reddy told ANI.

The decision was informed by the PM himself to Congress chief Soni Gandhi and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

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