TRS, TDP support BJP’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind; Cong unhappy on not being consulted
A clutch of regional parties from southern India backed Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind for India’s next President on Monday as the Congress expressed its disappointment at not being consulted before the Dalit leader’s name was finalised.
Minutes after the 71-year-old former Rajya Sabha MP’s candidature was announced by BJP chief Amit Shah, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti supported Kovind. The party has 11 seats in the Lok Sabha, three in the Rajya Sabha and 63 in the state assembly.
“Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji has telephoned Hon’ble CM KCR seeking support for Sri Ramnath Kovind Ji as President. CM has agreed to support,” chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s office tweeted.
The AIADMK (Amma) that is ruling Tamil Nadu was also likely to vote for Kovind, if presidential elections are held on July 17.
“Even Amma would have supported the BJP and so will we,” said Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai, who is with chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami’s faction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Tamil Nadu CM, who commands the support of 36 MPs in the Lok Sabha, 10 in the Rajya Sabha and 122 MLAs in the assembly. Another faction of the AIADMK – AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) – also indicated it will also back the BJP’s choice.
The Telugu Desam Party of Andhra Pradesh – an ally of the NDA – also pledged its support for the Dalit leader. The party has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, six in the Rajya Sabha and 102 MLAs in the assembly.
But the principal opposition party, the Congress, appeared displeased with the government’s announcement and said it would take a final decision at a scheduled meeting on June 22. The Congress has been trying to rally opposition parties for a consensus candidate.
“We expected that to evolve consensus, the government will discuss a few candidates…the government only informed us about the decision once it was made…we didn’t expect this,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. “Congress won’t comment on the merit or demerit of candidates.”
The BJP is well placed to put its nominee in Rashtrapati Bhavan and is around 100,000 votes short of a majority in the electoral college, meaning it will not only have to retain the support of its allies but also rope in fence-sitters such as AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and TRS.