The decision was taken at the opposition parties meeting headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
The grapevine had been abuzz with talk that Dr B R Ambedkar’s grand son Prakash Ambedkar, ex-diplomat Gopal Krishna Gandhi and ex-home minister Sushil Kumar were also prospective candidates in the fray.
While Left leaders had leaned towards nominating Gandhi or Ambedkar, Kumar’s visit to Congress’ chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence, a day before the meeting, has balanced scales for her.
Notably, Kumar is also a Dalit, a factor that had won support for Kovind.
Kovind’s Dalit background had made him a candidate that political parties cannot afford to reject, even more so with his added credentials of being a crusader for the Scheduled castes and OBCs.
An example of this conundrum could be JD (U) president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was won over with the BJP’s smart move. He expressed ‘personal happiness’ initially and later declared his support to the candidate as well. He also decided to skip the meeting called by Sonia to choose the candidate on Thursday.
Similarly, the move also has pushed the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bahujan Samajwadi party to the defence as they have chosen to wait and see who the Congress chooses as its candidate. It is likely that they might back Kovind if the candidate is not Dalit.
But with now Kumar’s nomination, parties now can choose whom they wish to support without upsetting sensibilities or going against party idealogies.