Sending out a clear message to the Dalit community which seems to be up in arms against the BJP in UP and also in Gujarat where Assembly elections are due later this year, the BJP on Monday picked the party's Dalit face - Bihar governor Kovind - as the party's nominee for the Presidential elections slated for next month.
Earlier in the day, BJP president Amit Shah took everyone by surprise when he announced the name of the NDA alliance candidate.
Speaking to reporters, BJP president Amit Shah said: "Ram Nath Kovind comes from a Dalit family and has struggled a lot".
Shiv Sena's support is crucial for NDA as the party has a total vote pool of around 25, 893.
Raut reiterated that the Shiv Sena was keen on the candidature of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat or eminent agro-scientist M.S. Swaminathan for the President's post. "We now hope that they don't have any reason to oppose Kovind's candidature because of his background, his non-controversial nature and social background", Naidu said. He once headed the BJP's Dalit wing.
Patil defeated NDA candidate and Vice President B.S. Shekhawat.
Incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee is completing his term on July 24, and a new President has to be elected before that.
Azad also accused the BJP of "unilateralism" but did not say whether or not the opposition will field a candidate for the July 17 contest. Thackeray told Shah on Sunday that the Sena will take a decision after the BJP announces the candidate. SP said it would consult UPA before taking a final call.
"The office of President is a key post".
The Opposition has said that despite BJP talking of wanting a "consensus candidate", it sought no input on Kovind's candidature.
Nitish Kumar called on Kovind in Patna and said he is "personally glad" over his candidature, but was non-commital on Janata Dal-United's support to his candidature.