Kovind wins INLD sup­port

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - PUNJAB - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

CHANDIGARH : Haryana’s main op­po­si­tion party In­dian Na­tional Lok Dal (INLD) on Thurs­day an­nounced sup­port to the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA) pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ram Nath Kovind.

Leader of Op­po­si­tion in Haryana and INLD leader Ab­hay Singh Chau­tala said the party had de­cided to sup­port Kovind as he has a clean im­age.

The INLD sup­port to Kovind didn’t come as a sur­prise as it had no op­tion ex­cept back­ing the NDA nom­i­nee. The INLD, which was an ally in the pre­vi­ous NDA gov­ern­ment, is prin­ci­pally op­posed to the Congress and could not have sup­ported its can­di­date. The INLD an­nounce­ment came on a day when Kovind was here to meet BJP leg­is­la­tors in Haryana and Pun­jab. He also met NDA ally SAD lead­ers and leg­is­la­tors.

The INLD has 19 leg­is­la­tors in the 90-mem­ber Haryana assem­bly. The rul­ing BJP en­joys a ma­jor­ity with 47 MLAs and the sup­port of five In­de­pen­dents. The Congress has 17 MLAs. The Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal and the Bahu­jan Sa­maj party have one leg­is­la­tor each.

Kovind, ac­com­pa­nied by Haryana chief min­is­ter Manohar Lal Khat­tar and state BJP chief Sub­hash Bar­ala, met INLD lead­ers and leg­is­la­tors at a pri­vate ho­tel in Panchkula to seek their sup­port. Ad­dress­ing INLD lead­ers, Kovind paid tributes to for­mer deputy PM Devi Lal and re­mem­bered his con­tri­bu­tion to Haryana. “We used to call him ‘Tauji’ even in Par­lia­ment and in­her­ited good val­ues from him, which I con­tinue to fol­low,” he said.

Ear­lier, 71-year old Kovind, who ar­rived along with ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj, se­nior BJP leader Anil Jain and Khat­tar, was given a rous­ing re­cep­tion at Panchkula by party MLAs and MPs from Pun­jab and Haryana.

Among the 10 Lok Sabha MPs in Haryana, the rul­ing BJP has seven mem­bers, INLD has two and the Congress has one, while the BJP has only one mem­ber among the five Ra­jya Sabha MPs. Me­dia baron Sub­hash Chan­dra was last year elected to the up­per house with the BJP’s sup­port. The Congress has two Ra­jya Sabha mem­bers and the INLD has one in Haryana.

For­mer Pun­jab CM Parkash Singh Badal said his party was happy to sup­port Kovind. “Saada te BJP da janam janam da saath hai (we have a along as­so­ci­a­tion),” he said in Pun­jabi.

SAD pres­i­dent Sukhbir Singh Badal also hailed Kovind’s can­di­da­ture and said his party had an­nounced its sup­port on the day his name was an­nounced. “Asi taan blank cheque te sign kar ditta si (we had signed on a blank cheque),” he said.

KARUN SHARMA/ HT

NDA pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Ram Nath Kovind (C) be­ing wel­comed by Haryana INLD leader Ab­hay Singh Chau­tala, as CM Manohar Lal Khat­tar looks on, in Panchkula on Thurs­day.

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