- Mamata Banerjee's reservations are about 'stature'
- As examples she cited Pranab Mukherjee, LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj
- There are other big Dalit leaders in India, she added
The office of President is a key post and "someone of stature of Pranab Da, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani-ji may have been made the candidate," her party quoted her as saying in a series of tweets.
"I am not for a moment saying that the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit to be the President," said the Chief Minister, who had openly criticised the Central government on a number of issues. "I have spoken to two or three other Opposition leaders. They are also surprised. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country... He was leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP, so they have made him the candidate," she added.
Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country: MB #PresidentialPolls— AITC (@AITCofficial) June 19, 2017
Soon after the announcement, senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien took a dig at the BJP, tweeting:
How many of you logged onto Wikipedia today ? I did. #RamNathKovind— Derek O'Brien (@quizderek) June 19, 2017
Ms Banerjee is one of the opposition leaders who had said they could not commit to support the NDA candidate without knowing who it would be. Initially, the BJP had said Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who had earlier spoken to the Trinamool chief, will get in touch with her again.
Probably anticipating her reaction, PM Modi, who dialled Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu today, asked him to reach out to her.
The selection of Mr Kovind is seen as a move that has divided the opposition. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed happiness at the Governor's elevation. He, however, said his party would decide on whether to back the BJP candidate only after consulting other parties.
The BJP is also seen as expecting support from Lalu Yadav's RJD and Mayawati's BSP -- parties that support the cause of Dalits and backward castes. Mayawati has stopped short of welcoming the move. "As he is a Dalit we are positive on his name, but it would have been better had the BJP taken all opposition parties into confidence," she said.
The opposition parties are expected to meet on Thursday to decide whether they would support Mr Kovind or field a candidate of their own.