Opposition still in talks as Shiv Sena, PDP support Kovind

BJP presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind arrives to meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.

BJP presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind arrives to meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy


Venkaiah Naidu reaches out to regional parties; SP leader says Meira Kumar will be a good candidate

Even as the Shiv Sena and the People's Democratic Party of Mehbooba Mufti supported the candidature of BJP’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday, the Opposition was still in talks over a joint candidate against Mr. Kovind.

Amid the developments, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu reached out to several regional parties for their support to Mr. Kovind's candidature.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal batted for former Union Minister Meira Kumar, a Dalit leader and daughter of the late Jagjivan Ram.

“Our party will take a final decision after the June 22 meeting. But my personal view – it is not the party's view — is that Meira Kumar can be a good candidate,” Mr. Agrawal told The Hindu over the phone.

Interestingly, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has expressed his support for the NDA candidate. But the party is yet to take an official stand.

Opposition leaders, however, said they would announce a name only after their meeting on June 22 at 4.30 p.m.


The government, on its part, stepped up its efforts for wider support for Mr. Kovind, with Mr. Naidu talking to former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda, DMK leader M.K. Stalin, PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.

An official release said Mr. Gowda told Mr. Naidu that his son and party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy was away on a tour and the matter would be discussed on his return. Mr. Stalin and Mr. Ramadoss too said that they would discuss the matter with their parties, it added.

‘Chautala positive’

The release said that Om Prakash Chautala of the INLD, whom Mr. Naidu met, “responded positively.”

Mr. Naidu spoke to the Chief Ministers of the BJP-ruled States and leaders of allies, requesting them to attend Mr. Kovind’s filing of nomination on June 23. He also spoke to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to invite him and thank him for his support for Mr. Kovind. Mr. Patnaik said he would do so, the release said.

Sources in the Opposition said the names of former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, were informally discussed.

While CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said talks on many names were on with Opposition parties, CPI leader S. Sudhakar Reddy was quoted by PTI as saying: “Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s name was put forward in a different situation. At that time, we wanted the BJP to adopt it. Now, when the Opposition has to decide, we have to decide from a different angle.”

The Janata Dal (United)’s core committee will meet on Wednesday to take a call on the matter, two days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed Mr. Kovind’s candidature without endorsing it.

Sources in the CPI said Mr. D. Raja’s name has been proposed by “some individuals and not any non-NDA parties.” The party would discuss the issue within itself before Opposition leaders meet on June 22.

They also claimed that the BJP fielding Mr. Kovind has “not hurt” the unity among the Opposition parties.

“These are very crucial polls and we will have to ensure we protect the Constitution. There will be a contest,” a source said.

(With inputs from Renni Abraham in Mumbai and Peerzada Ashiq in Srinagar)

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 11:55:22 PM |

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