NEW DELHI: Opposition candidate Meira Kumar launched her Presidential campaign on the plank of conscience votes may come to haunt her, as the BJP seemingly went on an overdrive to cut through the core Congress support base in the North-east and other states, besides seeking to ensnare a few more political outfits from the UPA stable.
If the early indications are to be believed, the BJP is attempting Meira Kumar’s “conscience votes” pitch to persuade legislators hailing from the Opposition camp to vote for the NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, “who comes from a humble background unlike the UPA candidate”.
On the day of the Opposition announcing Kumar’s name to force a contest in the Presidential election, the BJP claimed to have the support of 28 political parties, who have voted in the electoral college. “Besides Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), three more parties would soon announce support for Kovind,” sources said.
Incidentally, Kovind’s Presidential campaign inauguration from Lucknow appears to have emboldened the BJP to aim much bigger vote share than the current 65 per cent. “A number of independent legislators assured their support to Kovind for July 17 election. At the same time, a large number of MLAs of both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have sent fellers to back Kovind for the fact that not only he hails from Uttar Pradesh, but he also has a down to earth image,” said a senior BJP functionary.
The BJP is particularly focussing energy on Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, North-east, Haryana, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh to get additional votes for Kovind. “The BJP is being seen as a party with prospects in the North-east, after the saffron outfit wrested power in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Except for the Left ruled Tripura, legislators in others states in the North-east are in touch with the local BJP strategists for Presidential election,” sources added.
The BJP has drawn up an elaborate plan for Kovind’s Presidential campaign by entrusting the NDA chief ministers with the responsibility to lead election strategies in their respective states, besides hosting him and legislators for meetings. While Kovind has covered UP and Uttarakhand so far, he will be flying to Srinagar on July 28 and heading to Panchkula on July 29 for a joint meeting with legislators of Punjab and Haryana. He will be visiting Chennai for a joint meeting with legislators of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala in the first week of July. Kovind is to be accompanied by senior ministers, including Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar among others during his campaign in states.