This move will, BJP hopes, reinforce its recent successes in co-opting Dalit communities into its fold, the larger project of consolidation of a mass base that it envisages for itself.
Immediately after receiving Modi's call, the chief minister consulted his party colleagues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Kovind would "make an exceptional president" and "continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised".
Terming the President's role as pivotal in protecting the nation and its Constitution, Banerjee argued that someone who is a seasoned expert in the subject should have been chosen instead.
The Sangh Parivar will be delighted as this is the first time that an unabashedly loyal "saffron soldier", as an important BJP leader described him to me, will occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan. "Ramnath has risen through the political ranks, waging a long and hard struggle as a Dalit", said Shah.
Besides, nearly all other BJP allies have announced their support to Kovind with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan calling it a "political masterstroke". It has also garnered support from parties like the YSR Congress, which has almost 2 per cent, and the TRS, which has 1.6 per cent. "Kovindji was the chief of the RSS Dalit branch". He has been a promoter by calling and has honed both in Delhi high court and Supreme Court.
"The chief minister is very happy that Modi has heeded to his advice".
Besides Naidu, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley were the other members of the committee.
Also, that the NDA nominee could dent the Opposition bloc's unity was evident with JD (U) president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expressing his "personal happiness" over the NDA nominee, but he didn't commit his party's support to his candidature.
During his parliamentary tenure, Kovind emphasised development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas and helped in construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand under M.P. L.A.D.
On two occasions in the past, the Shiv Sena had deviated from the NDA line by supporting UPA candidates: in 2007 when Pratibha Patil won the election and in 2012 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee was elected.
Reacting to Mayawati's "Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should have selected a name from a non-political background which will be better" remark, NCP leader Majeed Memon said the former can not openly oppose a Dalit candidate so she went the other way.
Shah had jokingly challenged a group of senior editors over a lunch last month saying "if you all collectively guess a set of names you would still not be able to predict the name of our candidate". But it seemed confident that it had managed to unsettle the Opposition and strike the right note with its allies.
Sonia Gandhi had taken the initiative to forge a consensus on the opposition's candidate for the presidential poll. The appointment turned out to be mere tokenism and a questionable choice with many scandals dotting Patil's presidency. "But it is their will, they are free to take a one-sided unilateral decision", Azad added.
Kovind then drove down to Shah's residence where he was greeted by senior BJP leaders.
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