India is set to get its second Dalit president as the BJP on Monday 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.
"I am sure Ram Nath Kovind, a farmer's son, will make an exceptional president & continue to be voice for poor, downtrodden, said PM Narendra Modi after the annuncement of the name of BJP Governor as NDA's Presidential candidate.
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.
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.
Kovind is from RSS ranks: CPI
The Opposition parties must put up their candidate against Ram Nath Kovind, as he is from the ranks of RSS, CPI said on Monday.
"He is also from RSS ranks. He was president of Dalit BJP Morcha...Sangh Pariwar organisation. Definitely, we will put up a candidate. Anybody from RSS...we will fight," CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy told PTI.
The CPI leader said his party feels that the Opposition must put up a candidate, adding that a decision would be taken in consultation with "our colleagues and other parties".
"Anybody from RSS rank will further divide the country. The three-year rule of the BJP government has divided the country. Anybody from RSS ranks will further divide the country. We feel that definitely (there is a need for a) democratic candidate, not from hardcore of RSS", he said.
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Reddy also said that the Opposition parties have decided to field a candidate.
"We have decided that on (June) 20th or 21st we will finalise the candidate. There is a sub-committee. In consultations we felt we should definitely put up a candidate. The sub-committee will meet on 21st or so and finalise the candidate," he said.