The Opposition set to put up a candidate against NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind

The Opposition set to put up a candidate against NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind

The Opposition set to put up a candidate against NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind

The Opposition is all set to put up a candidate against NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind with the Left parties looking to the Congress to come with suitable names.
 
Congress would sit down with other Opposition parties on Thursday to decide on a candidate where parties like JD(U), Samajwadi Party and BSP are likely to express their reservations about opposing Kovind, a Dalit from Uttar Pradesh, and field another from the deprived section "just for the sake of contesting".
 
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has rushed to Patna to attend an 'iftar' and use the occasion to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has indicated his support for Kovind and convince him on a joint opposition candidate.
 
With an aim to ace the Dalit card played by BJP, a section of the Opposition feels that they should also field a Dalit candidate.
 
Sources said Congress leaders Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, and Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Home Minister, have gained currency as a possible Opposition choice but it is to be seen whether non-Congress parties would be keen to support them.
 
Names like that of prominent agriculturist M S Swaminathan, nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar and B R Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar are also being speculated as possible candidates.
 
Opposition camp's hopes on Shiv Sena to break ranks with BJP were also dashed when the party announced its support to Kovind and this could eventually eject Shinde from the list. Some leaders were hoping to rope in Shiv Sena using candidature of Shinde or Prakash Ambedkar, both belonging to Maharashtra.
 
With their choice Gopalkrishna Gandhi out of the reckoning, sources said the Left parties may be open to the names suggested by Congress. A senior CPI leader said the Congress should now take the lead and come up with names.
 
A senior Samajwadi Party leader said they were "against a contest for the sake of contest" while admitting that opposing a candidate from Uttar Pradesh remains a problem for them. Like the JD(U), the SP also describe Kovind as a "good man".
 
Though not committing to support Kovind, the SP leader said a decision would be taken on Thursday before the Opposition meeting.
 
JD(U) would decide its stand on Wednesday during a Core Committee meeting in Patna on Wednesday. Sources said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already told Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav about the discomfiture in opposing Kovind.
 
"There was not a single statement to embarrass the government, there was no ideological inflammation," a senior JD(U) leader said while pointing out that former Governor Buta Singh, a Congress leader, had troubled them a lot when JD(U) was in power with BJP.
 
He also referred to JD(U)'s support to UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 when the party was in alliance with BJP.


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