PATNA: Breaking ranks with BJP's Opposition parties, the JD(U) on Wednesday announced its support for Ram Nath Kovind as the country’s next President.
The move came after JD(U) national president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held marathon meetings with senior party leaders and legislators. The JD(U) also said after its decision to support Kovind, the NDA’s presidential candidate who resigned on Tuesday as Bihar governor, it would not attend a meeting of 18 Opposition parties scheduled on Thursday to discuss their strategy regarding the presidential polls.
“The party (JD-U) has decided to support Ram Nath Kovind as the next President. The decision was nade after taking the views of top leaders of the party,” said JD(U) general secretary and Rajya Sabha
member K C Tyagi on Wednesday evening.
He said the decision was made with “full consensus” after Nitish Kumar held discussion on the issue with top JD(U) leaders, MPs and legislators. JD(U)’s core committee meeting chaired by Kumar was
attended by senior party leaders such as Tyagi, former JD(U) national chief Sharad Yadav, RCP SinghS state JD(U) chief Vashistha Narayan Singh, MP Harivansh, State water resources minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, among others.
“His (Ram Nath Kovind) tenure as the Governor of Bihar has been very good. It has been devoid of the typical political conspiracies hatched in the Governor’s House. We remember the tenure of (former
Bihar Governor) Buta Singh,” said Tyagi. “He (Kovind) did not allow anything like that to happen in the Governor’s House,” he added.
Nitish Kumar, who was on Tuesday urged by senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav not to back Kovind, did not speak to the media. Kumar and his Cabinet colleagues
received West Bengal Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, who has been handed additional charge of Bihar, on his arrival at the airport in Patna on Wednesday.
“Azad was in the city (Patna) and stressed his opposition to Kovind. Therefore, there is no need for us (JD-U) to attend tomorrow’s meeting,” said Tyagi. He then hastened to add: “But we (JD-U) have been a strong proponent of Opposition unity and will keep trying to work towards it. This (support to NDA’s
presidential candidate) is a one-off incident, and it will not hamper efforts for Opposition unity."
Tyagi also said JD(U)’s support for Kovind will not affect Bihar’s ruling grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and the Congress. “It will not affect it at all because Kumar had conveyed his views on Kovind to Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sonia Gandhi earlier. The issues on which the grand alliance was formed did not include the presidential polls,” he said.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who left for Ranchi on Wednesday to appear in a court there in connection with a fodder scam case, declined to comment on JD(U)’s decision. “We will go with the decision of
the Opposition parties, which are meeting in New Delhi on Thursday,” he said.