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Presidential poll: BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, southern parties give NDA winning edge

NEW DELHI: Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA’s presidential candidate+ , should have an easy passage to Rashtrapati Bhavan with the ruling alliance already having the committed support of 57.85% of the electoral college which will elect the next President.

Even if the opposition decides to field a candidate, the contest will be largely academic.

The NDA’s current strength in the electoral college is 5,37,683, which is 48.93% of the total votes. This goes up to 57.85% votes with TRS (2%), AIADMK (5.39%) and YSR Congress (1.53%) already pledging support to the NDA candidate.

Late on Monday, BJD chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik came out in support+ of Kovind, adding 2.99% more votes to the NDA’s kitty. A former BJP Dalit Morcha chief, Kovind may not be acceptable to several opposition parties but the two key regional parties from his home state, Uttar Pradesh, may find it difficult to oppose him.

Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have hinted about possible support to the NDA nominee. Bihar chief minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar has spoken positively about Kovind as the two shared a good rapport after the latter took over as governor of Bihar three years ago. Kumar though refused to commit support to the NDA candidate and said it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue.

He claimed that he has already conveyed his opinion to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, hinting at the possibility of supporting Kovind even though he claimed his party would reach a final decision after the meeting of opposition parties. If JD(U) (1.91%), SP (2.37%) and BSP (0.86%) too come on board, the NDA will have the support of 65.98% of the electoral college.

Support for Kovind could swell further as parties would be loath to be seen opposing a Dalit candidate for the top constitutional post, more so with preparations for the next Lok Sabha polls in 2019 set to start in right earnest.


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