Nitish Praises Kovind, Mayawati ‘Positive’ But With A Rider

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday showered praise on Governor Ram Nath Kovind, whom the ruling NDA earlier in the day named as its candidate for the July 17 presidential election, saying he is “personally glad” over his candidature.

BSP chief Mayawati said that while she does not subscribe to the political lineage of Kovind, her party’s stand on his presidential candidature will “be positive and certainly not negative”.

However, Nitish Kumar was non-committal on whether his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) will support Kovind.

“Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post. His was an ideal relation with the state government,” Nitish Kumar said after meeting Kovind at Raj Bhavan here.

He said he congratulated Kovind, a Dalit leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party, on his nomination as the National Democratic Alliance candidate, and added that “I am personally glad he is the presidential candidate”.

As to whether the JD-U will support his candidature, Nitish Kumar said: “It is difficult to say at this point of time. I had talks with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on this issue. We will discuss the issue later and decide.”

Kovind is likely to leave Patna for Delhi on Monday evening to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mayawati said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah and Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu had called her to inform that Kovind will be the NDA candidate for the office of the President of India.

The Bahujan Samaj Party leader said since Kovind came from the Kori community, which though in small numbers was a part of Dalits, she would never oppose his candidature.

The Dalit leader also added that Kovind had strong linkage to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP, something which she could not ever support.

She, however, hinted that if the opposition named a more popular Dalit leader, she would review her party’s stand on Kovind.

The name of former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar is doing the rounds as the opposition candidate for the top post and BSP leaders say in such an eventuality their party would favour the Bihar woman politician.

Mayawati, however, rued that the government did not chose in good faith to consult opposition parties about its candidate and merely informed them about its choice.

She also mentioned that earlier the Rashtrapati Bhavan had a Dalit occupant in former President K.R. Narayanan and that it would have been better if the NDA had named any other “apolitical Dalit name” for the top constitutional job.

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