NDA’s Presidential candidate: Dalit face from UP, Ram Nath Kovind could help BJP in 2019 polls

Kovind has always been a low profile leader and was not even among the names doing the rounds for the presidency

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2017 4:42 pm
ram nath kovind, bihar governor, presidential election, presidential election 2017, bjp presidential candidate, presidential election india, india news, bjp news, bjp candidate NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. (File Photo)

The announcement by BJP President Amit Shah of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, 71, as the NDA’s presidential candidate, indicates that the party is trying to address a major concern in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The low profile Kovind, from the Koli community of Dalits in Kanpur Dehat district (UP), has been a practising advocate in Delhi. In 1998, when Kushabhau Thakre was the BJP president he appointed Kovind the chief of its Scheduled Caste wing. Kovind has fought one Lok Sabha election unsuccessfully from Ghatampur (SC) constituency (the seat no longer exists) and one assembly elections from Bhoginipur (SC) in 2007. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice, in 1994 and in 2000. When Amit Shah became the BJP President he made him general secretary of the party before he was appointed Bihar governor by August 2015, months before the assembly elections. While practicing as an advocate in Delhi, Kovind was active in the BJP and closely associated with former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh who is presently Governor of Rajasthan. It was Kalyan Singh who had decided to send him to the Rajya Sabha in 1994. He has worked with former prime minister Morarji Bhai Desai as his OSD.

Kovind has always been a low-profile leader. He was not even among the names doing the rounds for the presidency. BJP and RSS leaders in Indira Nagar, Kanpur, where Kovind’s family resides, rarely met him when he visited the city — some of them did not even return his calls. Kovind was never active for the BJP or RSS in Kanpur. Interestingly, in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he wanted to contest from Orai (SC) but he did not get a ticket. He was a little annoyed and the party then appointed him governor of Bihar. He is the longstanding president of the All India Koli Samaj, a community of Hindu weavers with a sizable population in districts such as Kanpur and Faizabad in UP.

With the announcement of his candidature, the BJP’s worries ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls are quite clear: with Mulayam-Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress clearly showing an inclination to fight the elections jointly, the BJP knows such a coalition may weaken its prospects in UP. With BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Adityanath already wooing Dalits, Kovind’s elevation is expected to give the party’s fortunes a further boost.

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  1. Sanjiva Prasad
    Jul 20, 2017 at 2:01 pm
    Can your correspondent provide the source that Mr Kovind worked as Personal Secretary or OSD to Morarji Desai (assuming this was when Morarjibhai was PM)? My father worked in Morarjibhai's PMO for about a year. The PM's Personal Secretary was his long-time aide, the venerable and upright Shri VY Tonpe. The office used to maintain a sheet of all the staffers with their contact numbers, and I do not recall Mr Kovind's name. A senior official who served Morarjibhai for his entire Prime Ministership also does not recall Mr Kovind at all.
    1. M
      Mahendra Yadav
      Jun 23, 2017 at 11:06 am
      Mayawati has shown her casteist mindset by supporting Mira Kumar who is also a jatav by caste as Mayavati is.Mayawati has gone from dalitism to casteism.
      1. A
        Jun 19, 2017 at 8:58 pm
        End of the day he is also a chaddi that means no brain at all ! He will also become the president of all cows of India ! Same like what Modi has become after the UP election !
        1. Deeptanshu Verma
          Jun 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm
          Is there any source for this line - "BJP and RSS leaders in Indira Nagar, Kanpur, where Kovind’s family resides, rarely met him when he visited the city — some of them did not even return his calls". Trust IE to throw in such comments when the person was appointed Governor.
          1. B
            Jun 19, 2017 at 6:47 pm
            In that case, why Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee did not help Congress to win ?
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