'Not Saying He Is Unfit But...': Mamata Banerjee On BJP's President Pick

After BJP's announced Ram Nath Kovind as the Presidential candidate, Mamata Banerjee said "Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country"

'Not Saying He Is Unfit But...':  Mamata Banerjee On BJP's President Pick

Mamata Banerjee is on way to the Hague where she is on a three-day visit.

Story Highlights
  • Mamata Banerjee's reservations are about 'stature'
  • As examples she cited Pranab Mukherjee, LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj
  • There are other big Dalit leaders in India, she added
New Delhi: The surprise announcement of Ram Nath Kovind - Bihar Governor and a Dalit - as the Presidential candidate by the Narendra Modi government has drawn a "will get back" reaction from most opposition parties. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, has been her outspoken self.  Minutes after the NDA's Presidential candidate was announced, the Chief Minister, who is on her way to Hague, responded with a series of reservations.

The office of President is a key post and "someone of stature of Pranab Da, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani-ji may have been made the candidate," her party quoted her as saying in a series of tweets.

"I am not for a moment saying that the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit to be the President," said the Chief Minister, who had openly criticised the Central government on a number of issues. "I have spoken to two or three other Opposition leaders. They are also surprised. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country... He was leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP, so they have made him the candidate," she added.
Soon after the announcement, senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien took a dig at the BJP, tweeting:
Ms Banerjee is one of the opposition leaders who had said they could not commit to support the NDA candidate without knowing who it would be. Initially, the BJP had said Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who had earlier spoken to the Trinamool chief, will get in touch with her again.

Probably anticipating her reaction, PM Modi, who dialled  Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu today, asked him to reach out to her.

The selection of Mr Kovind is seen as a move that has divided the opposition. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed happiness at the Governor's elevation. He, however, said his party would decide on whether to back the BJP candidate only after consulting other parties.

The BJP is also seen as expecting support from Lalu Yadav's RJD and Mayawati's BSP -- parties that support the cause of Dalits and backward castes. Mayawati has stopped short of welcoming the move. "As he is a Dalit we are positive on his name, but it would have been better had the BJP taken all opposition parties into confidence," she said.

The opposition parties are expected to meet on Thursday to decide whether they would support Mr Kovind or field a candidate of their own.
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