Patana:20/6/17;Just as intended by the BJP, the selection of Ram Nath Kovind for the President of India has fissured the opposition. Especially in Bihar, where Mr Kovind has served as Governor since August 2015 and where the two main partners in government, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, have a propensity for disagreement.
Yesterday, the BJP stumped the opposition by picking Mr Kovind, 71, as its candidate for President. Because Mr Kovind is a Dalit, most opposition parties find it hard to disagree with his choice. Mayawati, for example, who is a Dalit icon, said she would not object to Mr Kovind unless the opposition fields another Dalit as its candidate.
Opposition parties are meeting on Thursday in Delhi to decide whether to back Mr Kovind or enforce an election, as suggested by the Left’s Sitaram Yechury.
Mr Kumar is a key component of the united opposition front that is being tested by the BJP’s naming of Mr Kovind. Last evening, the Chief Minister visited the Governor at his home in Patna to congratulate him on his nomination. When Mr Kovind was named Governor, the Chief Minister had complained that he had not been consulted about the appointment. But they developed a good equation. Praising the Governor yesterday for “an ideal relationship” with the Bihar government, one that was free of partisanship despite the Governor’s BJP roots, Mr Kumar said his party would make its stand clear at Thursday’s meeting.
However, sources close to him say he believes there are no grounds to object to Mr Kovind, who has in the past served on the BJP’s unit that works for Dalits.In 2012, Mr Kumar broke with opposition parties and the alliance that he was a part of to back the then government’s choice, Pranab Mukherjee, for President. Mr Mukherjee won the election against PA Sangma.