NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind will launch his campaign for the July 17 presidential election from Uttar Pradesh on June 25, informed sources said on Friday. He will later visit other states to seek support from MPs and MLAs who form the electoral college for the presidential contest.
During his visit to Uttar Pradesh, Kovind will be accompanied by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. "We are preparing a detailed plan for his visit," a BJP leader said.
In a show of support, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and Chief Ministers of NDA-ruled states, among others, were present when Kovind filed his nomination papers here on Friday.
Kovind is pitted against former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, the candidate of major opposition parties, including the Congress.
Kovind, 71, was born in Paraunkh village in Kanpur rural in Uttar Pradesh. Like Meira Kumar, he too hails from the Dalit community, which has sizeable presence in the state.
Uttar Pradesh is crucial for the Bharatiya Janata Party as it won 71 of 80 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and followed it with a resounding victory in 2017 assembly polls.
Kovind's launch of his electoral campaign from Uttar Pradesh is being connected to BJP's high electoral stakes in the northern state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Kovind filed three sets of nomination papers on Friday. The first set was signed by Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, apart from other leaders. The second nomination was filed in Hindi, endorsed by Shah and other leaders.
The third set was signed by allies of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance, including former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
The fourth set of nomination papers will be filed on June 28, endorsed by Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, among others. BJP leaders said Kovind has the support of 65 per cent of the electoral college, with 20 Chief Ministers and 28 parties backing him. Kovind is widely expected to sail through the presidential election.
The NDA, including the Shiv Sena and the Peoples Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir, commands the support of 48.93 per cent in the electoral college made up of MPs and MLAs.
With the backing of parties outside the alliance like TRS (2 per cent), AIADMK (5.39 per cent), YSR Congress (1.53 per cent) and BJD (2.99 per cent), the NDA's support reaches nearly 63 per cent with JD-U contributing 1.91 per cent.
The counting of votes will take place on July 20. President Pranab Mukherjee's term ends on July 24.