NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a tour of the southern states from July 1, during which he will interact with the lawmakers of the various political parties supporting his candidature.
With rival parties or factions in states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu supporting his candidature, the former Bihar governor will speak to the MPs and MLAs of these states separately as he consolidates his votes, now inching towards two-thirds of the electoral college. More Independents and smaller parties, including the INLD in Haryana today, are lending their support to the NDA's presidential candidate.
Kovind will be in Chennai on July 1, where he will meet both the factions of the AIADMK, the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, separately. The meetings are slated to be attended by the representatives of the other parties supporting his candidature as well, a BJP leader said. Both the AIADMK factions have announced their support to Kovind for the country's top constitutional post.
On July 4, the former Bihar governor will travel to Telangana, where the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has announced support to his candidature, and then to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is a BJP ally. He will be in Karnataka on July 5, said BJP sources.
Kovind, whose victory in the presidential poll is being seen as almost certain, will be accompanied by Union minister JP Nadda and BJP general secretary Muralidhar Rao during his visit to Tamil Nadu and by Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu, besides Rao, in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Union ministers Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ananth Kumar, besides BJP general secretary Saroj Pandey, will accompany him during his meetings with the lawmakers in Karnataka.
The MPs and MLAs supporting Kovind's candidature in Kerala and Puducherry will be part of his Chennai meetings.
The sources said Kovind will undertake a tour of the north-eastern states on July 6-7, before turning to the eastern states like Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.
Over 21 chief ministers, including 17 from the NDA, and 30 political parties have announced their support for Kovind against Meira Kumar, the joint candidate of several opposition parties, including the Congress. The presidential poll is scheduled for July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20.