- Ram Nath Kovind will file his nomination at 11 am today
- The ruling alliance now has over 60 per cent of the vote
- Meira Kumar is the opposition's candidate against Mr Kovind
PM Modi met BJP chief Amit Shah and senior union minsters Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar on Thursday evening, shortly after 17 opposition parties led by the Congress announced that former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will take on Mr Kovind, 71, for the top post. The presidential elections will be held on July 17.
Each set of nomination papers must include the signatures of 50 lawmakers as proposers and 50 as seconders. Ram Nath Kovind, who was Governor of Bihar till he was nominated earlier this week, will also be accompanied by several chief ministers including the Odisha's Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal and Tamil Nadu's E Palaniswami of the AIADMK, leaders of regional parties who have pledged support to the BJP's nominee.
Along with their support, the ruling alliance now has over 60 per cent of the vote and Mr Kovind is expected to sail through. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has broken ranks with the opposition to pledge support to Mr Kovind, who he has described as an ideal candidate for Rashtrapati Bhavan.
By picking Meira Kumar, 72, to contest against Mr Kovind, the opposition has turned it into a Dalit vs Dalit battle, seen as strategy to ensure the support of leaders like Mayawati, who said it would be difficult for her to vote against a Dalit leader for the top post.
Meira Kumar is from Bihar and Nitish Kumar's partners, Lalu Yadav and the Congress, have urged him to reconsider his decision and support "the daughter of Bihar." Mr Kumar's party, Janata Dal United, has said there is no question of changing its mind.
Ms Kumar is expected to file her nomination papers in a couple of days. After the nomination process is completed the nominees will begin campaigning.
The president is elected by members of an Electoral College made up of members of Parliament and state legislatures. Votes in the presidential elections will be counted on July 20, three days after voting.
President Pranab Mukherjee's term ends on July 24.