The decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party to nominate Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Alliance has drawn mixed reactions from opposition parties and some of the NDA allies. Here is a quick peek into the comments of various leaders after the BJP announcement.
Will take final decision on June 22: Congress
"So far as the National Democratic Alliance nominee is concerned, the Congress has nothing to say on the merits or demerits. All the opposition parties had collectively decided on evolving a consensus on the presidential candidate when leaders of 18 parties met," Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
"We had full hope that before announcing they will discuss some names. They did inform us but only after they had decided on the name," he said and termed the outreach by the BJP as a "formality".
TRS to support
Telangana Rashtra Samithi decided to support Kovind's candidature. The party took the decision after its president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao received a phone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"As per your suggestion we have decided upon a dalit candidate for the presidential post," a statement from the chief minister quoted the prime minister as saying. Modi requested Rao to support the candidate. The TRS chief consulted the party colleagues and later conveyed his party support for the presidential candidate to the prime minister.
Shiv Sena non-committal
Responding to the choice of BJP's presidential candidate, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that they would not stand by the BJP if they were trying to consolidate a vote bank. Reportedly, Shiv Sena had put forth the names of agriculturist M.S. Swaminathan and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
BJP named Kovind 'unilaterally': Yechury
The CPI(M) said the BJP "unilaterally" selected Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA's presidential nominee and the opposition will meet on June 22 to decide their next step ahead of the July 17 polls.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the non-NDA parties will take the decision "keeping in mind the country's history that the ruling and opposition parties contested the polls on all occasion except once".
"It was their (NDA's) proposal that they will get back to the opposition after zeroing on a candidate. They did not come back to the opposition and announced the candidate," Yechury told reporters
Never heard of Kovind: Mamata
Expressing surprise at the BJP's decision, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed she had never heard of the nominee and termed it a "not so mature" move.
"I have not heard his name ever before. I do not know him. I could recognise him only after he was mentioned as the Bihar governor. I can say that I am surprised by the decision," Mamata said.
"His name did not come during our discussion. We gave a consensus proposal as the president is a very important portfolio. This name is like a bolt from the blue. This is not a very mature decision," she said.
Nitish praises Kovind, but mum on support
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar showered praise on Ram Nath Kovind, saying he is "personally glad" over his candidature.
However, he 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 in Patna.
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."
Won't oppose: Mayawati
Bahujan Samaj Party 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".
In a statement, the four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister said BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu had telephonically informed her that Kovind would be the NDA candidate for the office of the President of India.
The BSP 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.
Will let you know our decision: Naveen
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday said his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will decide on the NDA's presidential candidate after a discussion among the senior party leaders.
"We will clear our stand on support to NDA candidate after a discussion with senior leaders. We will let you know after that," Patnaik told media persons.