In a curious turn of events the political battle for the country’s top post got more intense between the two rival political blocks as an united opposition’s gamble of fielding a Dalit candidate to fight NDA’s Dalit candidate immediately paid off by weaning off BSP but failed to win back its own ally JD(U).
BSP chief Mayawati immediately withdrew the support from NDA’s Dalit candidate Ramnath Kovind to back Congress’ Dalit leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
“In the new circumstances, after comparing the qualities of the two candidates it is clear that UPA candidate Meria Kumar is more capable and popular than the NDA nominee. Hence, our party declares support to Meira Kumar for the presidential poll,” said BSP chief Mayawati.
“BSP will support Meira Kumar in the presidential election,” she declared.
However, the belated decision to announce a Dalit candidate by the opposition to counter NDA’s dalit nominee failed to persuade politically crucial and Congress’ coalition partner in Bihar government – Janta Dal (U).
In a significant move that may affect its alliance in Bihar, JD(U) refused to back Congress’ Dalit candidate Meira Kumar and reiterated its support for NDA’s candidate Kovind calling it a merit based decision.
“Our decision to support Kovind remains unchanged. It was a decision taken on merit after due application of mind and full consultation within the party… We will stick with his choice,” JD(U) spokesperson Pavan Kumar Varma said.
The Opposition today unanimously decided to field Kumar, a dalit, as its joint candidate for the presidential election against Kovind, with 17 parties supporting the former Lok Sabha speaker’s candidature.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the 17 non-NDA parties in Parliament House Library, with the leaders endorsing the name of the former minister and diplomat, whose father, ex-deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram, was often hailed as one of the tallest dalit leaders in the country.