Kovind files papers for President

NDA’s presidential nominee says President’s post above party politics

The values I hold dear — of inclusiveness, social justice and pluralism — are the values the President must uphold as the supreme representative of our nation. MEIRA KUMAR, former Lok Sabha Speaker

NEWDELHI: Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA’s presidential candidate, filed his nomination papers on Friday and promised to keep the constitutional office above party politics. He takes on UPA’s candidate, former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, who called the election a fight between different ideologies.

The 71-year-old two-term parliamentarian thanked political parties for the overwhelming support. “Since I became the governor, I do not belong to any political party,” said Kovind, a Dalit leader from Kanpur. “It is my belief that the post of the president is above party politics and I will strive to keep it so,” he said.

Staring at an imminent defeat, Kumar remained combative. “This election is a fight of ideology. I would appeal to the collegium to take their decision in the best interests of the country, based on the cherished values and principles and ideologies. These are social justice, inclusiveness, and values of composite Indian heritage, which we hold so sacred,” she said.

Kovind promised to work for the country’s “all-round development, fulfilment of youths’ aspirations and encouragement to modern education”. India’s president is also the supreme commander of the armed forces and Kovind said security of the borders should be “our top priority”.

Flanked by PM Modi and others, Kovind filed three sets of nomination papers before Lok Sabha secretary general Anoop Mishra. Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, and SAD leader Prakash Singh Badal proposed his name in the papers. Sources said one more set of papers will be filed in the next few days. A total of 480 MPs, including veteran LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, and MLAs signed his nomination papers.

A total of 28 parties — including JD(U), BJD and others — and 20 CMs have supported Kovind’s bid. “As of today, we have support of the 65% of the electoral college,” a BJP leader told HT. “We expect it to cross 70% at least.”

The electoral college — or voters — for the election includes MPs and MLAs. The BJP has a majority in Lok Sabha, its situation has improved in Rajya Sabha, and it runs government in 17 states either on its own or with allies. Party whip — which, if not adhered to, could attract disqualification — does not apply to MPs in voting to elect the president and BJP leaders expect a sizeable number of MPs from the opposition to vote for Kovind.

Shiv Sena was conspicuous by its absence at the filing. Sena leaders said they were not invited while BJP said there was “some confusion”. Sena MP Anand Rao Adsul earlier signed Kovind’s nomination papers.

Neither Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, backing Kovind, nor his representatives were present. Four others CMs, supporting the nomination, could also not attend the ceremony.

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