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JD (U) to back Kovind as Prez poll candidate

The opposition suffered a massive blow June 21 when the Janata Dal (United) chose to back National Democratic Alliance candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election, thus boosting the ruling side’s numbers, while the opposition made it clear that they will nominate their own candidate. “We chose to extend support to NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind as his tenure as Bihar Governor has been peaceful”, said JD (U) spokesperson KC Tyagi.After filing his nomination Kovind reached out to the opposition by asserting that the president’s office was above party politics and that he did not belong to a party.Bihar JD (U) president Basistha Narayan Singh repeated the party’s decision to support Kovind and made it clear that there was no going back on it.Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is the JD (U) president, praised Kovind’s tenure as the governor of Bihar on Monday soon after BJP chief Amit Shah named him as the ruling group’s presidential pick.Kovind’s UP Dalit identity and track record as a seasoned politician appear to have flummoxed opposition parties which are now wary of challenging his candidacy for fear of being seen as anti-Dalit. The Presidential poll is very critical because of its implication for the future of the country. NCP leader Sharad Pawar – who was initially in favour of former home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s candidature for president – proposed Meira’s name in the meeting.Like Kovind, Meira Kumar belongs to the Dalit community. Within JD (U) too, a revolt is brewing against Nitish’s decision.He also said his party’s decision has been conveyed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad.”Even I am proud of Bihar ki beti”.Seeking to remind Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of his government’s “zero-tolerance” policy on corruption, Modi asked the former to take cognisance of I-T department’s action against Prasad’s family members.His assertions, however, may not be able to change JD (U)’s stance on the issue.The JD-U decision came as a shock for the Congress-led 17-party front, which is meeting in New Delhi June 22 to decide on its strategy in the presidential election.The complete itinerary of Kovind’s travel is still being finalised as it will also depend on the availability of state leaders, including NDA chief ministers and others supporting him, the sources said. “We will stick with his choice”. Some people say it is a token fight, but what is tokenism in a democracy?