Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday congratulated NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind "in advance" and assured him of his government's support, a day before the election to the top constitutional post. At a meeting of the NDA MPs which was also attended by Kovind, Modi recalled that the former Bihar governor had worked as a 'sahyogi' (aide) of Morarji Desai when he was the prime minister and said this government will offer all 'sahyog' (cooperation) to him.
Kovind's win against opposition candidate Meira Kumar is a foregone conclusion as the ruling coalition has secured the support of nearly two-thirds of the electoral college, with some political parties even outside the NDA fold throwing their weight behind him.
Quoting Modi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the prime minister also offered his congratulations in advance to the Dalit leader.
Kumar also made light of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's call to MPs and MLAs for "vote of conscience", saying 40 political parties have supported Kovind's presidential bid and non-NDA chief ministers of states like Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have also announced their support for him.
"The way ahead is very clear," he said, underlining the clear majority enjoyed by the NDA candidate.
On the occasion, BJP MP Bhupender Yadav made a presentation to the MPs about the voting process to ensure that they vote correctly.
Modi said the campaigns by the two presidential candidates and parties supporting them had been very dignified and showed the maturity of the Indian democracy.
He had earlier posted a tweet saying, "The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate."
During the meeting, he also noted that 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement falls on August 9 and told the MPs that country-wide events to mark the occasion should be held between August 9 and 15.
He pitched for discussions and programmes for five years till 15 August 2022, the 75th Independence Day, aimed at pro-poor programmes and a good governance agenda.
The prime minister, Kumar told reporters, also noted that the advent of the year 2018 will mark the enrolment of "new millennial voters", those born in 2000 and after, and said they should be welcomed and made aware of their responsibilities.
Besides Kumar, BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed the MPs.
(With PTI inputs)