Sushma Swaraj, Advani should have been Presidential nominees: Mamata Banerjee

Opposition mulls contest

Last week senior BJP members held several meetings with other groups to seek a consensus candidate for the presidency.

Mamata said the office of President was a key post and "someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani ji should have been made the candidate".

He said Monday's decision on the candidature Kovind has "factored in those views and suggestions". "Opposition will meet on June 22, then only we can announce our decision", she added. "I am personally glad he is the presidential candidate". However, early statements coming from Opposition parties indicate that they are in no mood to relinquish their prerogative of putting up a fight.

Discussing whether Nitish Kumar would attend the June 22 meeting, Azad said he had himself called the Bihar chief minister who had assured him that there would be somebody from his Janata Dal-United.

Prime Minister Modi also spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy over NDA's presidential candidate pick.

To enable these numbers to come to parliament, electoral constituencies are reserved for them. "Now, they have named a person with RSS background". We are against it, but we will have to discuss the issue within the CPI and with other opposition parties.

Sources said that the Congress chief has not immediately extended her party's support for the BJP's presidential candidate during her telephone conversation with Modi, but said she would get back to him after consultation with her party colleagues.

If elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit Indian President after K.R. Narayanan.

Nominating a Dalit for the President's post makes it hard for Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to further their own interests in this respect. Consequently, most Opposition parties were unable to fault the ruling party's choice on Monday except to complain about the "unilateral" manner in which the BJP had made the announcement.

However, the opposition may put a candidate in a contest to challenge, but that may yield no result. It is being suggested that the Opposition should also field a Dalit so that they are not accused of voting against a scheduled caste candidate.

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

"He was born in a poor family, comes from the Dalit community and has long struggled for the rights of the weaker sections". The Bahujan Samaj Party is threatened by the rise of a new Dalit outfit, the Bhim Army, while the BJP is attempting to moving ahead to shore up its support among the Dalits and backward classes. He, however, said a detailed discussion would be held on the matter within the JD (U).

Mayawati told ANI that it could have been better if BJP would have selected a name from a non-political background.

West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's statement also did not appear in Kovind's favour. "He has an ideal relationship with the state government", Nitish Kumar said after meeting Kovind at Raj Bhavan here.

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