Presidential polls: Decision to support Ram Nath Kovind based on merit, says JD(U)

The JD(U) today rejected its ally and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's request to reconsider its support the NDA's presidential nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, saying its stand is based on merit and it will stick it.
KC Tyagi - India TV
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi 22 Jun 2017, 10:17 PM IST

The JD(U) today rejected its ally and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's request to reconsider its support the NDA's presidential nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, saying its stand is based on merit and it will stick it. After opposition parties decided to field Meira Kumar, Prasad said that he will ask Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar not to back Kovind. 

"Our decision to support Kovind remains unchanged. It was a decision taken on merit after due application of mind and full consultation within the party... We will stick with his choice," JD(U) spokesperson Pavan Kumar Varma said. 

He said Kovind is anyway the "president-in-waiting" due to the numerical advantage the NDA has in the electoral college and his contest with Meira Kumar will be a "token" exercise. Defending Kumar against his decision to not go with other opposition parties, the former Rajya Sabha member noted that he had broken ranks with the NDA, of which he was a member then, and supported the UPA's candidate Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. 

Earlier in the day, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav said its ally JD(U)'s decision to support NDA presidential candidate was "a wrong decision", adding he would appeal Nitish not to commit "a historic blunder". The RJD strongman, whose party along with the Congress is in a coalition government with Nitish Kumar's JD-U in Bihar, said while he would request Kumar to reconsider the matter, there would be no threat to the state government, which would continue despite the JD-U's decision. 

"We have made an appeal today and will meet him at an iftar party tomorrow and urge him to review his decision. I will tell him not to commit a historic blunder as his decision to support the BJP candidate is a wrong decision," he said, replying to a volley of questions on the matter. 

Will ask Nitish to reconsider his decision on backing NDA candidate, says Lalu

Asked if Kumar had "betrayed" opposition unity, he said, "Whether one has committed betrayal or not, Nitish Kumar would know better. Our government in Bihar will continue." 

He said that the opposition would appeal to Nitish "again and again" to think again. "We will not create any threat to the government there," he added. 

Lalu Prasad said his was an "ideological battle" against Kovind. "(He) is a hardcore RSS man and even if the Congress had asked us to support him, I would have gone against it," he said. 

The RJD supremo said the opposition's candidate, Meira Kumar, was "bihar ki beti" (daughter of Bihar), and the daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram. She will fight this "ideological" battle, he said. "Lalu Yadav will never make any compromise on ideology. We have today decided on 'Bihar ki beti' and 'great' dalit leader Jagjivan Ram's daughter. We fight an ideological battle."

The former Bihar chief minister said while Nitish Kumar skipped today's meeting of opposition parties, RLD leader Ajit Singh was there, ensuring that 17 parties supported Meira Kumar's name. He also recalled that it was Nitish Kumar's JD-U which initiated the discussions for a joint opposition candidate against an NDA nominee. 

"Sharad Yadav had started the discussions and asked us. He had said their party would go with the consensus," he said. 

Nitish Kumar, Prasad added, had said he was supporting Kovind because he was "a good governor and a good man". "The decision is not taken on any person's goodness, but it is based on ideology. We are not going to make any compromise on our ideology," he said.

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