Nitish breaks ranks with Opposition, supports BJP’s Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind

NEW DELHI: Nitish Kumar, who had praised Ram Nath Kovind as an “ideal governor”, on Wednesday urged his MLAs to support his candidature for the President’s post. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Janata Dal United where the party’s stand on the BJP’s presidential pick was discussed.

“It is the decision of all the leaders of the party. We support Ram Nath Kovind and are happy for him. His candidature will lead to the development of Bihar,” Ratnesh Sada, JDU MLA, said.

Nitish Kumar had reservations about challenging Kovind – a Dalit – and said on Tuesday that he had made his “feelings” known to RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Kovind was Governor of Bihar till the BJP chose him as its nominee for the President’s post.

Nitish Kumar, political sources said, would want to continue sharing a cordial relationship with Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India,” Nitish Kumar had told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhawan, hours after the BJP announced Kovind’s name as the NDA candidate for the presidential election.

“I came to pay a courtesy call to the Governor as he is set to leave for the national capital. I am bound to pay my respect to him (Kovind) after declaration of his candidature for the post of the President India,” the chief minister had said.

Kovind’s election is all but certain because of the NDA’s numbers and the support it has received from regional parties that are not part of the combine.

The Shiv Sena had on Tuesday announced its support for Kovind standing by its ally BJP with which its relations have been strained.