Kovind wins INLD support
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.
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.