"After discussing with senior party leaders, BJD has made a decision to support the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind", Patnaik told reporters after receiving a telephone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kovind's Dalit background and the fact that he served as president of All India Koli Samaj from 1998 to 2002 might have come in handy for the BJP parliamentary board leaders to finally select him as the NDA's nominee for the post of President.
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's presidential candidate, greets the media as he leaves for Delhi, at Raj Bhavan in Patna on Monday. He devoted his life to public service & worked for poor & marginalized.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who met the Bihar governor after his name was announced by the BJP parliamentary board meeting, said that it was a "matter of happiness" for him. "I am sure Shri Ram Nath Kovind will make an exceptional President & continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised".
Similarly, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: "Only once in the history of independent India has the president of India been elected uncontested".
"They informed us of their choice only after announcing their decision".
Kovind's nomination follows huge protests past year by members of the historically marginalised Dalit community, who make up around 17% of India's population. But given the ruling BJP-led NDA's numerical superiority Kovind's appointment as the next President of India is nearly a surety.
"My small advice towards this is- it could have been better if the BJP would have selected a name from a non-political background", Mayawati added.
Kumar, the JD (U) national president, however, refused to commit any support to the NDAs presidential candidate, saying it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue. I have spoken to 2 or 3 other Opposition leaders, they are also surprised. All the parties in the opposition are likely to meet on June 22.
While the NDA's combined strength of MPs and MLAs is closer to the majority mark in the electoral college meant for electing the president, the BJP wants to go one step further and take the fizz out of the Opposition's newfound unity.
Voting for the next president is scheduled on July 17, while the counting will take place on July 20. Raja said they will decide collectively about their future course of discussion.
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