New Delhi: Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is the candidate of the ruling coalition for President of India. Mr Kovind, 71, "will make an exceptional President" said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter. As an experienced lawyer, his "knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation," Mr Modi emphasised.
Mr Kovind, who is a Dalit, is a farmer's son and his humble origins and simple lifestyle is being stressed by BJP leaders.
He was named Governor of Bihar by the centre three years ago. He is a former leader of the BJP's unit that represents Dalit and served two terms as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He is a trained lawyer who has appeared at the High Court and Supreme Court.
He worked as a top aide to former Prime Minister Morarji Desai and has represented India at the United Nations in New York.
By selecting a Dalit, the BJP has moved to consolidate its support among lower castes and poorer voters.
BJP chief Amit Shah said that Governor Kovind, who will reach Delhi this evening, "comes from a Dalit family and has struggled a lot. We hope he will be the unanimous candidate for the election."
To win over the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally spoken to Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, as also to the Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. All allies of the BJP have also been informed of its decision, said Mr Shah. Ally Shiv Sena said that the BJP had not followed protocol, claiming that it discovered Governor Kovind's nomination through the media.
With the support of regional parties like the TRS of Telangana and the AIADMK of Tamil Nadu, the BJP should be easily able to get Governor Kovind elected if the opposition decides to put up its own candidate in an election on July 17.
During his term in Bihar, Governor Kovind has run into no controversy with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who visited him this evening to congratulate him.