The BJP Parliamentary Board meeting on Monday has nominated current Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for president. Kovind from Uttar Prades’s Kanpu, who is a former president of BJP’s Dalit morcha, was made the Governor of Bihar two years ago after the NDA took power in the centre in May 2014.
BJP chief Amit Shah announced Kovind’s name after the Parliamentary Board meeting at party head quarters in New Delhi, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Besides Modi and Shah, Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Ananth Kumar, M. Venkaiah Naidu and several top leaders were present at the party office for the meeting of the party's highest decision-making body.
Amit Shah also said that the government has informed key opposition parties about the NDA’s candidate. Seventy one year-old Kovind is expected to file his nomination for president on 23 June.
A three-member committee was constituted by Shah last week comprising senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley to find the presidential candidate.
Earlier, a joint Opposition has said that it will back NDA if they propose a secular candidate. Amit Shah said PM Modi spoke to Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi and Congress veteran Manmohan Singh to seek their support for Kovind.
“Sonia ji told us that she would discuss this within the party and take a call on their next move.” Shah said.
The Opposition will be meeting on 22 June to decide whether to name a candidate or support the NDA.
Kovind became a Rajya Sabha MP in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh and served for two consecutive terms for 12 years till March 2006. He has served as a member in many important Parliamentary committees, such as on welfare of scheduled castes/tribes, home affairs, petroleum and natural gas, social justice and empowerment and law and justice. He was also chairman of Rajya Sabha House Committee.
Kovind was a Central Government Advocate in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and a Central Government Standing Counsel in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became the Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court in 1978 and practised in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993. He was enrolled as an advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council of Delhi.
On 14 June, the Election Commission had started the process of Presidential election. The nomination process will close in two weeks on 28 June. But the nomination of the BJP's presidential candidate is likely to be filed by 23 June, as PM Modi is leaving for the US on 24 June. The nomination papers will be scrutinised on 29 June and the candidates backed by 50 'electors' and seconded by another 50 can contest the presidential poll.
Voting will take place on 17 July from 10 am to 5 pm at the places of polling fixed under the rules. The result will be out on 20 July.
If elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit Indian president after K R Narayanan.