New Delhi: It was a show of strength by the ruling NDA as Ram Nath Kovind, flanked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, filed his nomination for the presidential election. But missing among the big group that turned up along with them at Parliament House Bhavan was oldest ally Shiv Sena.
Sources say Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Anand Rao Adsul came to Delhi and returned after signing as proposers without being present at the time of filing of nominations.
The former Bihar governor was also accompanied by BJP 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. All NDA leaders, including the Chief Ministers, had flown to Delhi to accompany Kovind during the filing of papers before the Lok Sabha Secretary General.
BJP leaders, however, tried to downplay the absence of Shiv Sena leaders saying it was due to "some miscommunication" regarding the timing of the event.
Unlike other NDA allies, Shiv Sena had not given a carte blanche to the alliance leader to pick the presidential nominee. Sena had earlier proposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat or agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan for the top constitutional post, but after BJP went ahead with Kovind waited for a day before finally coming on board.
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 start his election campaign from June 25, and is likely to visit nearly all states. BJP leaders claim they are confident of securing more than two thirds majority in the electoral college.
Kovind will be fighting against Congress nominee Meira Kumar, making the July 17 vote a Dalit vs Dalit battle. Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, is likely to file her nomination papers on July 28, the last date.