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BJP's Kovind appears set for comfortable win

Sagar Kulkarni, DH News Service, New Delhi Jun 20 2017, 0:48 IST
Narendra Modi and Ram Nath Kovind in a meeting in New Delhi. PTI file photo

Narendra Modi and Ram Nath Kovind in a meeting in New Delhi. PTI file photo

By selecting Ram Nath Kovind, a dalit leader, as its candidate the presidential election, the BJP has spurred fence-sitters into action.

Within hours of the announcement of Kovind's candidature, TRS and BJD declared their support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's choice for the country's top office. YSR Congress, headed by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, reiterated its support to the BJP candidate.

The electoral college for the presidential election has a vote value of 10.98 lakh and comprises 4896 electors – elected members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and elected members of legislative assemblies of states and union territories.

If the BJP manages to keep the NDA intact it has the assured support of 48% of the total electoral college. The BJP has already secured the support of AIADMK, YSR Congress who together make up 7% of the electoral college.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, whose TRS commands 2% votes in the electoral college, announced his support for Kovind's candidature after the Prime Minister spoke to him. YSR Congress too reiterated its support.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the support of the BJD – which has about 3% votes in the electoral college – placing Kovind with a comfortable support of 60% of the total vote share.

The Bihar Governor's candidature has put Nitish Kumar's JD(U) in a fix as it feels that the party could not be seen opposing a Dalit. However, the Bihar Chief Minister has conveyed to his opposition colleagues that he would stand by their decision.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has played the 'son-of-the-soil' card while canvassing support the Kanpur-born Kovind in an attempt to sway the SP and the BSP.

It is NDA partner Shiv Sena that is playing hardball with the BJP. Sena President Thackeray said his party – with 2.34% voteshare – will not support Kovind's candidature if vote bank politics was the reason for his selection.

The opposition block, led by the Congress, has 35% votes and would be looking at making a dent in the NDA ranks hoping for cross voting by parties such as the Shiv Sena.

The AAP with 85 MLAs and four MPs has a vote value of 8922 and has announced to vote with the opposition block despite Congress keeping it away from the grouping.

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