NDA’s presidential nominee will visit Srinagar on Wednesday as part of his campaign ahead of the elections next month. Kvoind, a former Bihar Governor, will meet state MPs and MLAs part of the electoral college to seek their support. Citing sources, news agency IANS reported that Kovind will be accompanied by Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Jitendra Singh.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, the party in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, will also accompany Kovind during his one day visit to the border state. The BJP shares power with the Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
After filing his nomination on June 23, Kovind (71), a low profile Dalit leader, yesterday embarked on a nationwide tour from his home state, Uttar Pradesh, to garner the backing of various political parties. Addressing the lawmakers in Lucknow, Kovind said that he had ‘come here to seek blessings’. "According to traditions, we first go home to seek the blessings of the elders. Uttar Pradesh is my place of birth. When we go home, we offer salutations to our mother. For me, Uttar Pradesh is my mother," Kovind told NDA MPs and MLAs from the state.
Though Uttar Pradesh has given the country nine Prime Ministers, including incumbent Narendra Modi, who is a Lok Sabha member from Varanasi, it will be the first time that the politically crucial state will have the pride of sending someone to the Rashtrapati Bhavan if Kovind is elected. The closest the state came to having its representative in the President's House was in 1969, when Mohammad Hidayatullah became the first acting President of the country and remained in that position from July 20 to August 24 of that year.
The opposition parties led by the Congress has fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, also a Dalit, against Kovind.
With over 62 per cent of the votes firmly behind him, Kovind's election as the next President appears almost certain. Besides the BJP and its NDA allies, the TRS, YSRCP, AIADMK, BJD and the JD(U) have also announced their support to him.
The presidential election is scheduled for July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20. If elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit President after KR Narayanan. The tenure of incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee ends on July 24.