India is set to get its second Dalit president as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday picked Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) nominee for the top constitutional post.
The 71-year-old low profile Dalit leader, a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, is seen as an astute choice by the saffron party, which has been targeted by opposition parties over Dalit issues, and his election is almost a certainty as the ruling bloc with the support of some regional parties enjoys a majority in the electoral college.
KR Narayanan was the country's first Dalit president.
BJP President Amit Shah made the announcement following over two-hour long meeting of the party's parliamentary board, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior party leaders.
Seeking support from opposition parties, Shah said Modi spoke to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought their support.
Top BJP leaders also spoke to various opposition parties and also got in touch with their allies.
Kovind, a lawyer, two-term Rajya Sabha MP and former president of the BJP's 'Dalit Morcha', is likely to file his papers on June 23.