Ram Nath Kovind is surprise NDA pick in Presidential election 2017

If elected, which is highly likely, Kovind will also be a President who Modi will be supremely comfortable with.

Kovind, 71, is a Dalit or Untouchable, the lowest rank in the Hindu caste system, which although officially forbidden by law still influence Indian society.

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah announced the name of Kovind, 71, after a almost two-hour meeting of the BJP parliamentary board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, ending all suspense about the NDA's candidature for the top constitutional post. The name also has the backing of the RSS, it is learnt.

The electoral college appears to be tilted toward the NDA despite ally Shiv Sena continuing the suspense over whether or not it would support Mr Kovind.

On Monday, BJP President Amit Shah had announced Kovind as the NDA's presidential candidate at a press conference held after a two-hour long parliamentary board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Kovind may file his nomination for president on June 23, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the US.

Kovind will be an exceptional president and continues to be a strong voice for the poor and marginalized, Modi tweeted.

On Monday, he said he hoped there won't be opposition to Mr Kovind "because of his background, non-controversial nature, and sound legal and social background".

Shah also said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had told him that her party would discuss Kovind's name before making a decision, reported ANI.

Dalit candidate: Since he belongs to Dalit community, it will be hard for political parties to deny support to him.

While the Opposition mounted an attack on the ruling BJP, accusing it of not consulting them before nominating Kovind, Gopalkrishna Gandhi thanked "all those who wanted to see me contest the election and perchance to win it".

Though the opposition is not too happy that the BJP announced its candidate without getting its nod, Kovind is known to enjoy good rapport with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has indicated support for his candidature. "The Sena never does caste-based politics".

Thackeray said he will call a Sena meeting before taking a final call.

Non-NDA parties like BJD, TRS and YSRCP have already announced their support to the Dalit leader. By proposing Kovind's name the party is trying to woo Dalit voters ahead of crucial polls. He has also groomed many political leaders of the BJP and the RSS in the past.

During his parliamentary tenure, Kovind emphasised development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas and helped in construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand under M.P. L.A.D.

Kovind joined a stir by SC/ST employees when in 1997 certain orders were issued by the Centre which adversely affected their interests.

He went on to work as Private Secretary to Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister of India, besides representing India in the United Nations in NY.

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