The opposition camp is yet to name its candidate for the poll, but former speaker Meira Kumar’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday fuelled speculation that she had emerged as the front runner.
The opposition may field a dalit against Kovind and among the names being discussed are those of B R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar and former minister Sushilkumar Shinde, apart from Meira Kumar’s.
The Congress, which is coordinating the opposition meet, expressed the hope that leaders of all parties which attended the May 26 luncheon hosted by Gandhi would be present for the meet.
Asked about the Congress’s choice for the poll, AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was a ‘hypothetical’ question, adding that the opposition would decide on a joint strategy for the July 17 poll on Thursday.
A JD(U) leader said its move backing Kovind was a ‘one- time, isolated case’, maintaining that opposition unity was intact on other issues.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is the JD(U) president, praised Kovind’s tenure as the governor of Bihar on Monday soon after BJP chief Amit Shah named him as the ruling group’s presidential pick.
However, Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge termed Nitish’s support to Kovind ‘his personal decision’ and hoped that Janata Dal (United) will extend support to the opposition’s presidential nominee.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the Opposition is a divided house over the Presidential elections as many of its partners have extended support to ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
Non- NDA party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi has backed Kovind for President. A former NDA ally, Biju Janata Dal has also backed Kovind’s candidature.