The NDA government’s masterstroke of nominating Ram Nath Kovind for the post of next President of India has left Opposition parties struggling to keep their unity. Cracks have appeared as JDU, SP and BJD decided to back the candidate picked by their sworn nemesis Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, parties left to hold the attack line are huddling together to come up with a name strong enough to conquer a Dalit champion from Uttar Pradesh for the top sovereign post on July 17, when MPs and MLAs representing people of India will cast their ballot.
Names of Meira Kumar, former speaker of Lk Sabha, and Prakash Ambedkar, a former MP and grandson of BR Ambedkar, are tossing around in media, but will the Opposition coalition against Modi be able to decide on one name in unity today?
Agency sources said the JD(U)’s announcement led to hectic deliberations through the day between senior leaders of the Congress and other non-NDA parties on how to keep the opposition together. The Congress, which is coordinating the opposition meet, expressed the hope that leaders of all parties which attended the May 26 luncheon hosted by Gandhi would be present on Thursday.
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Let’s have a look at where does non-NDA parties stand at the moment:
AIADMK: Supports Ram Nath Kovind
JD(U): Supports Ram Nath Kovind
TRS: Supports Ram Nath Kovind
Bahujan Samaj Party: Supports Ram Nath Kovind, but will attend Opposition meet to sww if they can come up with a bigger Dalit candidate for the post
Samajwadi Party: Mulayam Singh Yadav has announced that his party will support Ram Nath Kovind, however, with his son Akhilesh Yadav at helm his party’s MP Naresh Aggarwal will attend the opposition party’s meet on Thursday
CPI(M) and CPI: Will attend Opposition parties meet, likely to put forward name of Prakash Ambedkar, a former MP and grandson of BR Ambedkar
Congress: Sonia Gandhi, the main organiser of the Opposition coalition, will be hoping to keep it together to nominate a strong candidate and garner enough votes to register an unlikely victory. Former Speaker of Lok Sabha Meira Kumar may be her pick for the post
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Even if non-NDA parties manage an unprecedented unity on the name of a candidate worthy of the post, to get them inside Presidential Palace will be an uphill battle as NDA requires only a fraction of votes from the Opposition to register a win.
NDA parties hold 48.10% votes in the Presidential polls, while AIADMK, YSRCP, BJD, TRS and IND, parties which have already expressed support to NDA candidate Kovind hold 12.20% votes.
This leaves opposition parties with less than 40 per cent votes. If Opposition hopes to field a candidate with a chance to win, it will have to be powerful enough to woo wayward non-NDA parties back in the camp.
Credit: PTI Graphics