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Congress opposes Kovind because of his strong RSS-BJP ideology: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Congress will oppose the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind for the President's post because of his strong RSS-BJP ideology, said leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, on Tuesday.

Kovind resigned as Bihar governor earlier in the day.

The senior Congress leader was in Patna to participate in the iftar hosted by his state party unit. He described Kovind as a BJP ideologue and said the opposition wanted a "neutral" candidate not belonging to any political party per se. RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar were also present at the iftar.

"When the BJP leaders held talks with us on presidential nominee, they did not discuss any name. Now, they announced the their nominee first and informed us later. We were expecting a person like former President late A P J Abdul Kalam or even former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who were neutral and always tried for a consensus between the ruling party and the opposition. We will take a decision on the issue at the 17-party meeting on July 22," Azad said.

He, however, said that Congress was not opposing any name as such for the presidential nominee, but it was all because of ideological differences. "Our support or opposition is not for a particular person, but on the BJP ideologies. We were expecting a 'no-party' person not belonging to any particular ideology," he said.

Lalu also said the opposition would take a final call on the presidential nominee on July 22.

Nitish, who visited the Congress state headquarters on Tuesday for the first time in his political career, refrained from making any comments on the presidential election or Kovind's candidature.

Nitish has called a meeting of the JD(U) core committee in Patna on Wednesday to discuss the issue. "We will convey the JD(U) decision on the issue to the top opposition leaders at the meeting in Delhi on June 22," said state JD(U) president Bashishtha Narain Singh.

Azad also accused the Narendra Modi government of harassing Lalu out of political vengeance.