Ever since the ruling BJP fielded RSS-affiliate Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit face, as their presidential nominee, a bewildered opposition gathered to take a final call on presidential election 2017. This week, the UPA, consisting of Indian National Congress (INC), Janta Dal United (JDU), BJD (Biju Janta Dal) and Trinamool Congress discussed on the nomination process. The parties pitched for a strong, qualified UPA candidate for the upcoming presidential polls in July. Unfortunately, the ‘Opposition was a divided house this Wednesday’. The perplexity and dilemma were quite evident in the socialist block, when it came to nominating a UPA president contender against Kovind.
The Congress wanted the first woman Lok Sabha speaker Ms. Meira Kumar as their presidential candidate. In this regard, both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, urged former Indian Prime Minister Mr. Deve Gowda to attend this meeting. Politely declining the offer, Gowda refused to be a part of this circus show. He was expected at a state-level function organized by Karnataka Congress, with Oscar Fernandes and M Verappa Moily in attendance.
Things seem exceedingly difficult for Congress, at present, as there are just a handful of leaders that back Congress candidate. They feel it’s difficult to oppose Kovind’s candidature, as he’s an upright ‘Dalit’ face. While RJD and SP are braced up for the challenge, Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, INLD, Janta Dal and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) showed their interest in supporting Kovind.
A source from the JD (S) compared this situation to the 2002 President elections, wherein it was just Congress and JD (S) against NDA presidential nominee A P J Abdul Kalam. The supporters advised the INC to nominate a Muslim candidate, precisely the former chief justice of India Mr. A.M. Ahmadi. Nevertheless, the party brushed off this idea, for which they paid later.
The UPA allies, however, explain their stance stating that the decision to support Kovind was a personal preference. It isn’t likely to affect the unity of the opposition parties. Considering the current situation, it’s safe to say that the roads are clear for Kovind, as of now.