As Opposition fumes, Centre seeks support for Kovind

New Delhi : The Centre on Monday appealed all Opposition parties to support Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind for the post of President, whom the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee for the top post.

Centre’s appeal came after almost all the Opposition parties accused the government of not consulting them for a consensus on Kovind’s name.

Talking to ANI, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said, “We appeal all the opposition parties to cooperate and support this decision as Kovind is an experienced and learned man. He has a humble and non controversial background. He is a good parliamentarian.”

Refuting Congress and other opposition parties’ assertion that NDA didn’t build consensus on the name of presidential nominee, he said the central government doesn’t want to involve in any controversy by commenting on it.

“We built consensus on his name. We conveyed the decision to all the opposition parties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. We talked to the CPI (M), BSP, NCP, Samajwadi Party leaders,” he added.

Following NDA announced Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind as its Presidential nominee, Congress party and some other opposition parties including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) dubbed the decision as one-sided and allegedthat it was influenced by ‘political contest’ as Kovind is from the ranks of RSS.

“Kovind ji was the chief of RSS’s Dalit branch. So somewhere it is a political fight or contest. We are not commenting and giving any character certificate to anyone,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told the media here.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad rebuffed the NDA’s move saying that the decision was taken without their consensus.

“During the meeting the senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had said that they will inform us before any announcement for a consensus, but they informed us after taking the decision. The Centre apprised the senior leaders, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh about the announcement over phone after taking the decision. So there is no question of mutual consent. We didn’t expect this from them,” Azad told the media here.

He asserted that the decision was one sided and taken without mutual consent.

Azad further said that the grand old party would not comment on NDA’s Presidential nominee as of now and would meet on June 22 to formally discuss the matter.

He further said that the meetings which were called by the BJP to discuss the Presidential nominee’s name with the opposition parties were mere a formality and PR exercise.

Meanwhile, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) senior leaders had said that they would seek opposition parties’ consent on the name of the presidential candidate which didn’t happen.

Kovind was announced as the presidential nominee of the BJP-led NDA by party president Amit Shah.

The election for the next President of India is to be held on July 17 as President Pranab Mukherjee will demit the office on July 24.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued the notification in this regard and the process of the nomination has started that will continue till June 28. (ANI)