NEW DELHI, June 19: India is set to get its second Dalit President as the BJP today picked Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA nominee for the top constitutional post. The 71-year-old low profile Dalit leader, a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, is seen as an astute choice by the saffron party, which has been targeted by opposition parties over Dalit issues, and his election is almost a certainty as the ruling bloc with the support of some regional parties enjoys a majority in the electoral college. KR Narayanan was the country’s first Dalit President. 

BJP president Amit Shah made the announcement following over-two-hour-long meeting of the party’s parliamentary board, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior party leaders. Seeking support from opposition parties, Shah said Modi spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought their support. Top BJP leaders also spoke to various opposition parties and also got in touch with their allies.

Kovind, a lawyer, two-term Rajya Sabha MP and former president of the BJP’s ‘Dalit Morcha’, is likely to file his papers on June 23. Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed happiness over State Governor Ram Nath Kovind’s candidature for the President’s post, but stopped short of committing support to the NDA nominee. In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India, he told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhavan, hours after the BJP announced his name as the NDA candidate for the presidential election. Paying his gratitude to Kovind for serving Bihar, Kumar said the former has served with distinction during his tenure as the state’s Governor. I came to pay a courtesy call to the Governor as he is set to leave for the national capital. I am bound to pay my respect to him (Kovind) after declaration of his candidature for the post of the President India, the chief minister said. Kumar, the JD(U) national president, however, refused to commit any support to the NDA’s presidential candidate, saying it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue. PTI Ram 

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