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Opposition’s Catch 22: How to Oppose Kovind Without Breaking Unity


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File photo of Sonia Gandhi and Nitish Kumar.

New Delhi: The Opposition is bracing for another fight against the government – this time over the presidential polls.

Moments after BJP announced Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate, opposition parties decided to oppose it. Sources say the Congress will put up a candidate against Kovind, though the name will be finalised only after the opposition meet on June 22.

Congress leaders, though, were careful in their choice of words while contesting ‘the BJP’s choice’, with Ghulam Nabi Azad saying “everyone knows how BJP has treated the Dalits”. The reference was to the Dalit card played by the BJP by choosing Kovind as the presidential candidate.

Mamata Banerjee, who is away in The Netherlands, was the most vocal in opposing Kovind. Trinamool MP Derek O’ Brien took a dig by tweeting: “How many of you logged onto Wikipedia today? I did. #RamNathKovind

All eyes are on Nitish Kumar who, of late, has shown an increasing proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was the first to call on Kovind, who is Bihar Governor.

Though Nitish didn’t spell out his strategy, many within Opposition feel he may end up supporting presidential choice of the NDA.

Now the dilemma before the Opposition is to come up with someone who can put up a fight . It’s clear that NDA has the numbers and the decks are clear for Kovind, but in politics it’s important to show that you are battle ready.

There are no names shortlisted yet, and there are many probables. Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Meira Kumar are front runners. But the bigger concern for the opposition is a possible break in unity.

Back in 2007, when the Congress put up Pratibha Patil, Shiv Sena broke opposition ranks to vote for her because she was from Maharashtra. It was the turn of the Congress to smile then. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. The party will be under pressure not to weaken opposition unity ahead of the 2019 general elections.

First Published: June 19, 2017, 6:59 PM IST

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