A Dalit from India’s most populous state is expected to become the next president of India. As the opposition is badly divided on almost everything, and has failed to come out with a credible name as the replacement of President Pranab Mukherjee who will demit office next month, Ram Nath Kovind’s election is almost assured.
The BJP took almost everyone off-guard, when the name of Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate was announced. The Bihar Governor who has kept a rather low-key profile, despite being the governor of a big state, unlike many of his peers, is not expected to face much of an opposition.
Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister who has been vying for the leadership of the opposition parties has praised the Governor of Bihar and saying he is a good person for the job. This has taken the air out of the opposition, indicating his soft corner for Ram Nath Kovind.
While the Congress party has attacked the BJP saying that it has unilaterally announced the name of Ram Nath Kovind for the top job, the party may feel rather devoid of many options given the rag tag opposition that the nation have in parliament.
1-year old Ram Nath Kovind was born on 1 October 1945. As far as Ram Nath Kovind’s case is concerned, he is a Dalit face of the BJP and belongs to the Chamar section of the community. He is an advocate by profession and practiced in Delhi before he was appointed the Governor of Bihar less than two years ago.
When it comes to Ram Nath Kovind educational qualification, born in Kanpur Dehat district, Uttar Pradesh, he holds a Bachelors degree in commerce and LLB from Kanpur University. He has worked as secretary of former Prime Minister Morarjee Desai. After graduating in law from a Kanpur college, Kovind had gone to Delhi to prepare for the civil services examination. He passed this exam on his third attempt. He, however, did not join as he was selected for an allied service instead of IAS and thus started practising the law. He worked as Central Government Advocate in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and Central Government Standing Counsel in Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978. Had practiced in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993. He was enrolled as an Advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council of Delhi. He was elected to Rajya Sabha from the state of Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006.
There is no denying the fact that his name as governor of Bihar and as the president of India took everyone by surprise. When he was appointed the governor of Bihar in 2015, The Telegraph newspaper says, “Most BJP leaders in the state were unaware of his name”.
This is not the first time Kovind, a former BJP national spokesperson, two-term Rajya Sabha MP, former chief of the BJP’s SC/ST Morcha (1998 to 2002) and Supreme Court lawyer, fits in the BJP’s Dalit scheme of things. “In the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections, Rajnath Singh had used Kovind to campaign in the Dalit areas to counter Mayawati. He is said to be close to the Union home minister. BJP sources said he lived a spartan lifestyle in a rented apartment in Delhi’s Kalibari before becoming an MP in 1994. Known to avoid controversy, he never appeared on television when he was party spokesperson. He was also the SC/ST representative at IIM-Calcutta.