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Posted at: Jun 19, 2017, 2:13 PM; last updated: Jun 19, 2017, 9:13 PM (IST)

Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is BJP’s presidential nominee

Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is BJP’s presidential nominee
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind. PTI file photo

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19

Putting all speculation to rest, the BJP on Monday announced senior Uttar Pradesh leader and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, as its nominee for the Presidential poll.

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Addressing a press conference here, party president Amit Shah said the BJP parliamentary board had decided on Kovind’s name. Shah said Kovind, who came from Dalit community, had struggled in life to reach this position. 

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The BJP chief said the name had been discussed with all NDA allies and opposition leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Shah said Sonia had told him that they would get back to him after consulting the party.

Shah said most opposition leaders had been contacted and they hoped Kovind would find enough support.

Meanwhile, the BJP’s masterstroke has stumped everyone, including the media, as Kovind was nowhere on the radar. As the party had pointed out earlier, their candidate has come as a surprise.                      

Sources say that being Dalit, Kovind is unlikely to face opposition from other parties. This is also a smart move by the party to reach out to the Dalit vote bank.                                              

With one stone, the party has made several political kills. Sources say the party has kept the surprise element intact, just as it did when it chose Yogi Adityanath over others as the UP CM.                       

Shah refused to divulge the other names considered for the nomination.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders say Kovind is well-read and has done well as chief of the BJP’s SC/ST cell. He enjoys a clean image, has impeccable credentials and has the potential to emerge as the consensus candidate, they add.                      

However, it remains to be seen how the Shiv Sena reacts to the development, though BJP leaders say all allies are on board or will be after the party reaches out to them.                       

When asked why the names of Sushma Swaraj or Sumitra Mahajan were not considered, party leaders remain mum but refuse to acknowledge that Kovind’s Dalit credentials are the only reason why he was chosen.

“He is a man of integrity, has a clean and secular image, and is the best possible choice for the top post,” they say. The name also has the backing of the RSS, it is learnt.                                             


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