BJP’s presidential pick Ram Nath Kovind starts campaign from UP, Uttarakhand | india-news | Hindustan Times
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BJP’s presidential pick Ram Nath Kovind starts campaign from UP, Uttarakhand

Kovind, who resigned as the Bihar governor to run for president, was at CM Adityanath’s residence where he interacted with a host of senior BJP leaders while seeking support from other political parties.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:37 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Union minister Nitin Gadkari with the NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on Sunday.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari with the NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on Sunday. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Ramnath Kovind, the 71-year-old Dalit leader from Kanpur, who is the ruling BJP-led NDA’s pick for Presidential polls, urged lawmakers from his home state of Uttar Pradesh to help him find support from across the political spectrum for his campaign.

Before leaving for Uttarakhand, where he also met chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and addressed party lawmakers, Rawat interacted with MLAs and MPs of India’s most populous state ahead of the first ever Dalit vs Dalit contest for the July 17 Presidential polls.

Congress nominee for the Presidential polls is former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, who is backed by 17 opposition parties.

With Union home minister and Lucknow MP Rajnath Singh down with a leg fracture, Kovind was accompanied on his Lucknow visit by Union minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP’s national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav who also attended the meeting that Kovind had with NDA lawmakers at chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s 5 Kalidas Marg residence on Sunday.

“Main Uttar Pradesh ka hoon aur yeh mera saubhagya hain ki main apne abhiyaan ki shuruat apno ke beech se kar raha hoon (I am from UP and it’s my privilege that I am launching my campaign from amongst our people),” Kovind reportedly said at the lawmakers’ meeting, for which media was denied permission.

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.

Kovind’s meeting with NDA lawmakers from UP is important as its legislators — being the most in number — carry the highest value.

The electoral college of the Presidential election comprises both MPs and MLAs, and each vote weighs in accordance with proportional representation. While all MP votes bear equal value — 708 — the weightage of MLA votes differs from state to state on the basis of population.

“Kovindji told us that we should not only vote for him, but also try to convince opposition lawmakers in UP to vote for him,” an MP who attended the meeting told HT. Several BJP allies from UP, including Apna Dal and Soheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, also met Kovind to express their support.

Though the ruling NDA has a comfortable edge over the Congress-backed opposition, many feel that the forthcoming presidential polls in July may turn out to be the closest electoral contest of the kind since 1969, when VV Giri faced off Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy.

On his part, Kovind, who has been assured of support by some opposition parties including the JD(U), has said that the President’s post should be above party politics.

During the meeting, Gadkari explained to the lawmakers the process of electing the President of India.

Earlier in the day, Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda extended his support to Meira Kumar, who is also expected to visit Lucknow soon to seek support of lawmakers.