The Congress party today said that it will meet non-NDA parties on Thursday to chalk out their strategy regarding the presidential polls, slated to be held next month.
Addressing the media after BJP declared Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s candidate for the top Constitutional post, senior Congress leader Ghulan Nabi Azad said that ‘all opposition parties will collectively decide on evolving a consensus on the Presidential candidate’.
"So far as the NDA nominee is concerned, the Congress has nothing to say on the merits or demerits. All the opposition parties had collectively decided on evolving a consensus on the Presidential candidate when leaders of 18 parties met recently," he said.
Accusing the BJP of unilateralism, the Congress leader refused to go into the ‘merits and demerits’ of the NDA candidate.
“The opposition did not expect this unilateral decision by the BJP to name Kovind. When (Home Minister) Rajnath Singh and (Information and Broadcasting Minister) Venkaiah Naidu met (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi, we had expected some names from them for discussion. But they gave no names. We had full hope that before announcing they would discuss some names,” he said.
"Yes, they did inform us but only after they had decided on the name," he added.
"The only thing I would like to say is that we expected that before taking the final decision on a candidate, they (BJP) will come back to us and other opposition parties. The opposition parties were given to understand that they will be taken into confidence. It is the BJP's sweet will and we cannot help that," he opined.
Azad said that all leaders in the opposition had agreed to attend the June 22 meeting to be chaired by Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision on the President's election.
Earlier in the day, BJP president Amit Shah announced that Kovind will be the NDA’s nominee for the top constitutional post. The 71-year-old low profile Dalit leader, a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, is seen as an astute choice by the saffron party, which has been targeted by opposition parties over Dalit issues.
Kovind’s election is almost a certainty as the ruling bloc with the support of some regional parties enjoys a majority in the electoral college.