Ram Nath Kovind, the BJP’s presidential nominee is being projected as a non-partisan and non-controversial figure by the BJP and its alliance partners. But even a cursory look at his past comments makes it look that it is simply not the case.
The incumbent governor of Bihar is expected to have rather an unchallenged journey to the top job in the country. With the opposition in disarray, and the fact that the BJP requires very few votes of opposition parties, it can be safely assumed that Ram Nath Kovind will be the man in Rashtrpati Bhavan in July.
The BJP choice for the top post seems to have come as a bolt from blue for the media, the opposition parties and even the BJP leaders. Many thought that Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj’s name was almost a done deal and they were waiting for the announcement in this regard. But the BJP stunned everyone by announcing Ram Nath Kovind’s name.
The BJP has already been assured the support of Telangana Rashtria Samiti (TRS), the ruling party in Telangana. Bahujan Samaj party’s Mayawati has also said that her party will support his candidature due to the fact that he is a Dalit face. In Lucknow, BSP chief Mayawati said her party is positive about the nomination but wished the NDA had named a non- political Dalit candidate for the top post. “Although Kovind has been associated with the RSS and the BJP from the beginning but since he is a Dalit, our party’s stand towards him cannot be negative. It will be positive, provided Opposition parties do not field any Dalit for the post who is more capable and popular than him…Had the BJP and NDA brought any non-political Dalit for the post, it would have been better,” she said.
There is no denying that he is an old RSS foot soldier and this seems to have played an important role in being picked up for the top job by the saffron brigade. He has made many controversial statements in the past as BJP spokesperson. He openly spoke against Misra Commission report on reservations for Muslims and Christians. The Commission had had recommended 15 percent reservation in government jobs for backward sections among Muslims and Christians.
He said that it was impossible. “No, that is not possible. Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional.” When asked why Sikh Dalits were given quota privilege and not Muslims and Christians, he had said: “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation.”
“The educational level of Scheduled Caste children remains much lower than that of convert Dalits and Muslims. The children of converts will grab major share of reservation in government jobs. They would become eligible to contest elections on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. This would encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of Indian society. The Misra commission report should be scrapped because (its recommendations) will jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes”, Ram Nath Kovind had said.