Presidential polls: Opposition in tizzy, to rethink strategy to counter NDA

Shiv Sena is likely to offer support to the NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind.

"Shah informed him (Thackeray) about the BJP choice and also sought the Shiv Sena's support for Kovind's candidature", Raut said.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Modi reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to seek the grand old party's support for Kovind. "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22", he said.

JDU leader Sharad Yadav said: "We will discuss about the Presidential candidate in the meeting of Opposition parties". Initially Sena had reservations against supporting presidential candidate and had asked BJP to first name its candidate for the post or choose either RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Agriculture Expert MS Swaminathan or nominate a candidate of their choice for the president's post.

Joining the critics of NDA's Presidential nominee, Shiv Sena said it would not extend its support if the Centre is eyeing a vote bank by nominating a Dalit face for the upcoming President polls. "We now hope that they don't have any reason to oppose Kovind's candidature because of his background, his non-controversial nature and social background", Naidu said. Mr Kovind, who is a Dalit, is a farmer's son and his humble origins and simple lifestyle is being stressed by BJP leaders.

"It is a matter of pride for the 22 crore people of the state", he said.

Incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee is completing his term on July 24, and a new President has to be elected before that.

Ms Mayawati said that her party could not be "negative" to a dalit candidate, but she stopped short of expressing support for Mr Kovind, saying her party would be "positive" only if the Opposition did not field a dalit candidate.

"The President's is a key post".

The Opposition that had tentatively started speaking about a unified approach is today bereft of ideas and as a senior leader not wanting to go on the record at this stage said, "bereft of unity as well".

Banerjee said senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani or Sushma Swaraj could have been made candidates.

Discussing whether Nitish Kumar would attend the June 22 meeting, Azad said he had himself called the Bihar chief minister who had assured him that there would be somebody from his Janata Dal-United.

"Kovind has discharged his duties as Bihar Governor in an unbiased manner".

However, there are signs that all the opposition parties might not share the same views when it comes to Kovind's nomination.

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