BJP playing vote bank politics by nominating Dalit for president: Shiv Sena

This move will, BJP hopes, reinforce its recent successes in co-opting Dalit communities into its fold, the larger project of consolidation of a mass base that it envisages for itself. He has always been associated with the poor, backwards and Dalits...

"Although Kovind has been associated with the RSS and the BJP from the beginning but since he is a Dalit, our party's stand towards him can not be negative".

Asserting that the decision was one sided and taken without mutual consent, Azad further said that the grand old party would not comment on NDA's Presidential nominee as of now and would meet on June 22 to formally discuss the matter.

"We have decided that Ram Nath Kovind will be NDA Presidential candidate", BJP president Amit Shah said after a almost two-hour meeting here of the party's Parliamentary Board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders. But, it looks like Ram Nath Kovind has the numbers - for now at least. Apart from being a top lawyer, he's a two-time member of the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).

The Congress too holds a similar view and accused the BJP of unilateralism. However a decision in this regard will be taken only on June 22 when the 18-party opposition front led by the Congress will hold a meeting to discuss the latest development.

The Sena's stance on Kovind's candidature in the upcoming election will be considered crucial as the party is a BJP partner both at the center and in Maharashtra.

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BJP's ally and NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has been at loggerheads with the BJP in Maharashtra, said that the party will decide on the issue in a few days.

Earlier Trinamool's chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said: "The name was announced at the BJP press conference". "How many of you logged onto Wikipedia today? I can say that I am surprised by the decision", Banerjee said at Dubai en route the Netherlands to address a United Nations' event.

The Prime Minister said that Kovind will make an exceptional President and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised. However, there were also those in the opposition who kept their options open.

BJP President Amit Shah had formed a panel comprising senior cabinet ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu to consult with allies and opposition parties for the presidential candidate.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on Kovind immediately after Shah's announcement. But other parties like the TRS, which is in power in Telangana, were unambiguous in their support.

Kovind has served as a member of several Parliamentary Committees, including Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, among others.

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