Presidential election: Congress spurns consensus on BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind
New Delhi: The Congress on Monday spurned the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) appeal for consensus on its presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and said the opposition would take a call on contesting the election after a meeting on 22 June.
The BJP had taken a “unilateral decision”, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said soon after the announcement of Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as the BJP’s candidate for president.
“Congress does not want to comment on this issue as we want to take a unanimous decision with all other opposition parties on the presidential elections. The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on 22 June,” Azad told reporters.
Terming the BJP’s efforts to reach out to the opposition through its senior leaders as a “formality and a PR exercise”, Azad said the ruling party should have built consensus before announcing the candidate.
“But they informed us after announcing this decision so there is no scope for consensus now... we were not expecting this from the ruling party. But it is their will, they are free to take a one-sided unilateral decision,” Azad added.
No names were discussed when senior BJP leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, the Congress leader said.
Asked to comment on the BJP fielding a Dalit candidate for the top constitutional post, Azad said, “...I don’t want to comment on this...I don’t want to comment on the merits and demerits of the candidate.”
Azad added that minorities, backwards and Dalits were not priorities for the BJP-led government. Atrocities on Dalits in Saharanpur were a clear example of this, he said.
Discussing whether Nitish Kumar would attend the 22 June 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.