West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee today claimed that Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind was declared NDA’s presidential nominee only because he had been a leader of the BJP's Dalit Morcha in the past.
Expressing reservation about Kovind's candidature, Mamata said that ‘someone of the stature of incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee or even Sushma Swaraj or LK Advaniji may have been made the candidate’.
The CM even said that she has never heard of the nominee and termed it a ‘not so mature’ move.
“I have not heard his name ever before. I do not know him. I could recognise him only after he was mentioned as the Bihar Governor. I can say that I am surprised by the decision," Banerjee said in a statement.
"There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he (Kovind) was a leader of the BJP's Dalit Morcha, they have nominated him," she added.
"The office of President is a key post. Someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee or even Sushma Swaraj or (L K) Advaniji may have been made the candidate. In order to support someone, we must know the person. The candidate should be someone who would be beneficial for the country. The opposition will meet on June 22, only after that can we announce our decision," she further said.
She, however, said, "I am not for a moment saying that Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit for the post of President. I have spoken to two or three opposition leaders, they too are surprised. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country."
Party’s chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said that the party was not informed of Kovind's nomination by the NDA for the post.
"The name was announced at a BJP press conference. That's how we got to know. Not even informed (sic)," he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, the NDA announced Kovind as its candidate for the upcoming Presidential polls. The announcement was made in a press briefing by BJP president Amit Shah.