BJP's pick of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as a presidential candidate has drawn mixed reactions across the political spectrum. The selection of a Dalit leader for President is being seen as a move by the BJP to consolidate its growing support among backward castes and poorer voters.
While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao welcomed the NDA government's decision, BJP's ally Shiv Sena remained apprehensive.
NCP's Majeed Memon
NCP leader Majeed Memon said that Mayawati cannot openly oppose Kovind as she has to take care of vote bank. He said the BSP supremo is opposing becasue Kovind is associated with RSS ideology.
""Since Mayawati has to take care of her Dalit vote bank, she cannot openly oppose a Dalit candidate... So, she is opposing because this candidate happens to be a RSS man," he told news agency ANI.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said that if someone is trying to make a Dalit a President with the purpose of gaining a vote bank then we are not with them.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP has 122 MLAs and claims to have support of some more legislators. There are 67 members from Maharashtra in Parliament - 48 in the Lok Sabha and 19 in the Rajya Sabha.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that there are other Dalit leaders in the country who are fir for this role.
"I am not saying that the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit to be the President. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP they have made him the candidate," Mamata said.
Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader Mayawati gave lukewarm response to the choice Dalit leader.
"As he is a Dalit we are positive on his name, but only if the opposition doesn't announce a popular Dalit name," she said.
Speaking to the media, Mayawati seemed not impressed by BJP' candidate. She said 'We are also of the opinion that it would have been better if NDA had named some non-political Dalit person as President nominee.'
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said his party would take a call after a meeting of Opposition parties on Thursday.
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, who was named as NDA's Presidential candidate, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence on Monday evening. BJP President Amit Shah was also present in the meeting.
Earlier, Kovind thanked the Prime Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party for reposing faith in him for such a big resposibility.