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NDA Puts up Show of Strength as Ram Nath Kovind Files Nomination

NDA Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind on Friday filed his nomination in the Parliament in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

Updated:June 24, 2017, 5:07 PM IST
New Delhi: Flanked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind on Friday filed the nomination papers for the presidential elections.

The former Bihar governor was also accompanied by party patriarchs LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and a battery of NDA chief ministers, including Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao and Tamil Nadu’s Edappadi K Palaniswami.

After filing the nomination, Kovind thanked the PM and other NDA leaders for supporting him. “In my opinion, the President’s post should be above all politics. Ever since I became Governor, I don't belong to any political party.... I will try to maintain the dignity of the post,” he said.

Referring to national security, Kovind said, "The president is also the supreme commander of all three forces. It is our responsibility to keep our border secure."

Kovind will be going up against Congress nominee Meira Kumar, making the July 17 vote a Dalit vs Dalit battle.

Kovind’s win is a foregone conclusion with NDA having 48.6 per cent of votes in the electoral college, that will elect the next president. Regional parties such as the AIADMK, BJD, TRS and JD(U) have announced their support to Kovind.

“The Congress could have announced Meira Kumar as the presidential candidate last year, but they didn’t. Uttar Pradesh is proud that Kovind is the NDA nominee,” Yogi Adityanath told reporters on Friday.

The presidential election is scheduled for July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20. The term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends on July 24.

Once elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit to occupy the highest constitutional office. The first was KR Narayanan, who was in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1997-2002. A low profile Dalit leader who held various organisational positions in the BJP, Kovind, 71, was made the Bihar Governor in 2015 after the NDA came to power in May 2014.

The name of the two-term Rajya Sabha member did not figure among the probables but his nomination by the BJP is now being seen as a "political masterstroke".

He enjoys a clean reputation and has steered clear of any controversy in his over 26-year-old political career. His Dalit background makes him a sound political choice for the saffron party working overtime to woo Dalits.

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