DUBAI: Expressing surprise at the BJP's decision to name Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA's presidential candidate, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday claimed she has never heard of the nominee and termed it a "not so mature" move.
"I have not heard his name ever before. I do not know him. I could recognise him only after he was mentioned as the Bihar Governor. I can say that I am surprised by the decision," Banerjee said at Dubai en route the Netherlands to address a United Nations' event.
"His name did not come during our discussion. We gave a consensus proposal as the President is a very important portfolio. This name is like a bolt from the blue. This is not a very mature decision," she said.
Terming the President's role as pivotal in protecting the nation and its Constitution, Banerjee argued that someone who is a seasoned expert in the subject should have been chosen instead.
The Trinamool Congress supremo noted: "Everyone knows that the President plays a vital role in protecting the nation and the constitution. It should have been someone like Pranab Mukherjee, Lal Krishna Advani or Sushma Swaraj who is a constitutional expert and knows our country well.
"I am not saying that the Governor of Bihar does not know the nation. I have spoken to two or three other Opposition leaders, they are also surprised. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP, they have made him the candidate. This is not a good practice."
Accusing the NDA of not bringing up Kovind's name during the previous discussions, Banerjee said that their decision is not a consensus decision.
"If someone decides to talk to us after the name is announced, we would tell them that we do not know this person. This is not a consensus decision," she said.
Banerjee said she is would be waiting for the all-party political meeting on June 22 before taking a final call.
"This is not the final decision.I cannot say much in this matter as we have an all-political party meeting on June 22. However, there were no discussions on the name of the presidential candidate yet.
"In order to support someone, we must know the person. Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country. Opposition will meet on June 22, then only we can announce our decision," she added.
Earlier Trinamool's chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said: "The name was announced at the BJP press conference. That's how we got to know. Not even informed. How many of you logged onto Wikipedia today? I did."