Leaders in the Opposition will attend a meeting on June 22, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, to take a final decision on the President's election.

BJP decided unilaterally Left Opposition react to Ram Nath Kovinds presidential nomination Clockwise from left: Ram Kovind, D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Ghulam Nabi Azad
news Monday, June 19, 2017 - 17:33
Written by  IANS

Putting an end to speculation, BJP President Amit Shah announced on Monday that Ram Nath Kovind, Bihar Governor and Dalit leader, will be the NDA’s presidential candidate. The decision has set off a series of reactions from other parties, many of whom accuse the BJP of taking the decision unilaterally.  

The Left parties for instance, said that there was no more scope for discussion with the ruling party as they had taken the decision unilaterally, and the issue would now be decided among the Opposition.

Referring to Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu reaching out to opposition parties earlier over the presidential polls, both CPI-M and CPI said they did not expect a "unilateral" decision from the BJP. 

"During the meeting (with Naidu and Rajnath), they wanted a consensus but did not come up with a name. They said they will get back to us with a name later. Now that they have made the decision unilaterally, there is no more scope for discussion with them," Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told the media here. 

Refusing to comment on NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, Yechury said the opposition parties will decide their strategy during the June 22 meeting to be chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. 

Asked if the opposition parties will field a candidate against Kovind, Yechury replied: "Except Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, never has a president been elected without a contest." 

Communist Party of India leader D Raja said the BJP's announcement was "non-transparent". 

"When Rajnath and Naidu called us to discuss candidates for presidential elections, they said they have no names in mind and wanted to know our suggestions. They told us that they will consider our suggestions but have now announced their candidate unilaterally in a non-transparent manner," said Raja. 

"We will discuss within our party and would consult other opposition parties and will arrive at a collective decision as early as possible," he added. 

Also read: Dalit leader and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is NDA's candidate for President

The Congress too holds a similar view and accused the BJP of unilateralism. It also announced on Monday that the opposition parties will meet on Thursday and decide their strategy regarding the Presidential polls.

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, refused to go into the merits and demerits of the Ram Nath Kovind. Azad also did not say whether or not the Opposition will field a candidate for the July 17 contest.

"So far as the NDA 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 recently," Azad said.

He said the opposition did not expect this "unilateral" decision by the BJP to name Kovind.

"When (Home Minister) Rajnath Singh and (Information and Broadcasting Minister M.) Venkaiah Naidu met (Congress President) Sonia Gandhi, we had expected some names from them for discussion. But they gave no names. We had full hope that before announcing they would discuss some names.

"Yes, they did inform us but only after they had decided on the name.”

He said the meetings with opposition parties was a formality.

"The only thing I would like to say is that we expected that before taking the final decision on a candidate, they will come back to us and other opposition parties. 

"The opposition parties were given to understand that they will be taken into confidence. It is the BJP's sweet will and we cannot help that."

Azad said all leaders in the Opposition had agreed to attend the June 22 meeting to be chaired by Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision on the President's election.

Photos courtesy:

Ram Nath Kovind: All India Radio/Twitter

D Raja: Kannanshanmugam via Wikimedia Commons

Sitaram Yechury and Ghulam Nabi Azad: PTI