Mumbai, June 19: Addressing a huge gathering in Mumbai, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expressed his opinion about the presidential candidate of National Democratic Alliance Ram Nath Kovind and appeared perplexed about extending support in upcoming presidential polls. Uddhav Thackeray said if the presidential candidate is being fielded for consolidation of Dalit voters, Shiv Sena will oppose the move but Kovind’s nomination will strengthen the country, the party may contemplate over chances of extending support.

The candidature of Ram Nath Kovind was announced Bharatiya Janta Party President Amit Shah after the BJP Parliamentary Board concluded its crucial meet. Thackrey said, “If someone is trying to make a Dalit a President with the purpose of gaining a vote bank then we are not with them but if it is for the development of the nation then we may support.”

Kovind’s candidature garnered mixed response from the opposition leaders. While senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress will restrain from commenting on the choice of the National Democratic Alliance, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury indicated the opposition may come up with its own candidate.

He said Kovind is the candidate of Bharatiya Janta  Party with strong links with Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Yechury further cited the example of former president Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy who was elected unopposed and the left parties may opt for an opposition candidate backed by other parties to respect the tradition. Opposition parties may come up with their own candidate after their scheduled meet on June 22.

Kovind, the Governor of Bihar, is a prominent Dalit face in the corridors of Bharatiya Janta Party who also headed the Dalit wing of Party. His candidature appears to be more oriented towards making further inroads in the Dalit community of the Uttar Pradesh which may further weaken the Bahujan Samaj Party in upcoming general elections.

The announcement of Kovind also baffled the opposition leaders as it would be very difficult for the opposition to go ahead with a non-Dalit candidate. To counter his candidature, the Congress may field its own Dalit face former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, say reports even though the Opposition is yet to decide on a name.