After the NDA announced its decision to pick Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its choice for the upcoming presidential elections, Congress on Monday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took the decision "unilaterally" without consulting the Opposition. The party also refused to comment on BJP's pick for the presidential polls.
On Monday, BJP President Amit Shah had announced Kovind as the NDA's presidential candidate at a press conference held after a two-hour long parliamentary board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"They (BJP) took a decision unilaterally, but it is up to them. One of our colleagues said it was a PR exercise... Without revealing the name how will you build a consensus? On the presidential nominee announced by the NDA, we have nothing to say. We don't want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate," Congress spokesperson Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a press conference.
He added: "The Opposition was given to understand that they will be taken into confidence. When the BJP leaders met us, they said that they would inform us about their choice of the presidential candidate before making an announcement. But they informed us after taking a decision."
Azad further added that the party would not comment on NDA's presidential pick "until the next meeting which has been fixed on June 22."
Reactions of Opposition parties
Leaders of other Opposition parties also didn't seem too happy with NDA's choice for the polls. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said that the party is "positive on his name because he is a Dalit, but only if the Opposition does not announce a more popular Dalit name." She added that "it would have been better if the NDA had named some non-political Dalit person as the Presidential candidate."
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: "There are other big Dalit leaders in India. He was the leader of the Dalit Morcha of the BJP, so they have made him the presidential candidate. Somebody of Sushma's (Sushma Swaraj) or Advani's (BJP veteran LK Advani) stature should have been chosen." However, the CM said that the party would announce its decision only after the Opposition meeting on June 22.
Similarly, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: "Only once in the history of independent India has the president of India been elected uncontested. Kovind was the head of the Dalit wing of the RSS. This battle is political." However, even Yechury said that his party would announce its decision only after the meeting on June 22.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed "happiness" over NDA's decision to choose Kovind as their presidential candidate. However, he did not reveal whether he would support the Bihar governor's candidature.
Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav also said that a decision would be taken only after the Opposition's meeting on June 22.
Meanwhile, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said that their respective parties have offered full support to the NDA on their selection of the presidential candidate.