Stumped by BJP's Presidential pick, Mayawati, opposition focus on Kovind's 'RSS' background

As usual at the last moment, Ram Nath Kovind, a former lawyer, political leader and present Governor of Bihar was nominated by the BJP.

Despite a majority, the BJP reached out to all the political parties "in the spirit of democracy", the urban development minister said. For example, when Kovind, belonging to the caste of shoe makers and dealers in hide, was sent as the Governor of Bihar, no party in Bihar could raise objections. Going by precedents, a battle may still be on hand but it will, at best, be a half-hearted battle as the BJP has clearly taken the sting out from the contest by picking Kovind. "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22", he said. "This means that you have set your eyes on the Dalit votebank", he said.

"We don't want to talk about his (Kovind's) personality but will talk on merit". K R Narayanan was the country's first Dalit president. "We will also discuss the name announced by the NDA". I have spoken to two or three other Opposition leaders, they are also surprised. A communication from the chief minister's office said the prime minister requested Naidu to garner the support of the Trinamool Congress for the NDA candidate.

"I hope they (opposition) should not have any reason now to oppose the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind because of his background, non-controversial nature, and also sound legal and social background", he said. Later, they said they would come back with a probable name.

CPI national secretary D Raja- "Now, they have named a person with RSS background".

"We are discussing within our party and with other parties informally". However, even Yechury said that his party would announce its decision only after the meeting on June 22.

"In this backdrop and considering the fact that Shri Kovind is an eminent lawyer belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, BJD, after discussing with senior leaders of the party has made a decision to support his candidature", said CM Naveen. "Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP they have made him the candidate", Mamata said. "The post of the President of India is above party politics". External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj today congratulated the Bihar Governor for his nomination as the NDA candidate for the Presidential poll.

With RSS setting the broad contours - that the candidate should be a Dalit, or a Tribal, must have a saffron hue, should be a senior well-read politician and non-controversial - the party brass went about seeking the views of the Opposition. The Opposition has been left behind in the race because it is still working on a name to be put up as a common candidate.

The BSP leader further added that she would wait and watch if Opposition announces a Dalit candidate as well.

The NCP also said the future course of action by the opposition parties will be decided in the June 22 meet.

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