Amit Shah underlines Ram Nath Kovind’s poor, Dalit background

With this move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, who took the final decision, have also reached out to the large Dalit vote base for which there are many claimants.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: June 20, 2017 5:16 am
ram nath kovind, kovind neighbours, kovind kanpur home, kovind kanpur neighbours, NDA presidential candidate Patna: Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, NDA’s presidential candidate, waves at the media as he leaves for Delhi, at Raj Bhavan in Patna on Monday. PTI Photo (PTI6_19_2017_000138B)

Springing a surprise that is likely to disrupt Opposition unity, the BJP announced Monday that Ram Nath Kovind, Governor of Bihar, “a party veteran born in a poor Dalit family who went the hard way up”, will be the ruling NDA’s presidential candidate.

With this move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, who took the final decision, have also reached out to the large Dalit vote base for which there are many claimants. Their choice has created confusion in the Opposition ranks where many are going to find it difficult to oppose Kovind. BJP ally LJP’s chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was quick in stating that all parties should back Kovind: “Sab ko samarthan karna chahiye, jo nahi karenge toh maana jayega ki woh Dalit virodhi hain (Everyone should support. Those who do not will be considered anti-Dalit).”

Kovind, who flew to New Delhi from Patna after the announcement, told NDTV: “It’s a duty, let’s take it as such.”
The TRS, TDP, YSR Congress and BJD announced their support to Kovind. Seeking support, Modi spoke to BJD chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

Patnaik said Kovind is an eminent lawyer belonging to the Scheduled Caste community. “The office of the President of India is above political consideration and Biju Janata Dal wants to keep it above politics,” he said.
Naidu was quoted having told the Prime Minister: “You have chosen a right candidate for the top post. An intellectual with high values belonging to the Dalit community is very apt in all respects for the President’s post.”

Addressing the media after a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board, Shah announced Kovind as their choice for President. He said Modi had spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Senior BJP leaders also spoke to leaders of other Opposition parties.

A two-term Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh and former president of the BJP’s Dalit Morcha who went on to become Bihar Governor, 71-year-old Kovind is likely to file his nomination papers on June 23.
With the BJP and its allies in a comfortable position to get their candidate elected, Kovind’s election to the top post is almost certain.

“Hope every party will have a consensus on Ram Nath Kovind, who was born in a poor Dalit family and who went the hard way up,” Shah said. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that Kovind “will make an exceptional President and continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised.”

In his tweets, Modi said Kovind is “a farmer’s son, comes from a humble background. He devoted his life to public service and worked for poor and marginalised” and “with his illustrious background in the legal arena, Shri Kovind’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation”. Shah said the BJP parliamentary board had taken into consideration the “feedback” the party got from discussions between BJP leaders, appointed by him to try and evolve consensus, and the other parties.

“Kovindji has been a senior leader of BJP for long time. He is from Kanpur Dehat… practised both in High Court and Supreme Court, had been a government counsel, a Rajya Sabha MP for 12 years and was the chief of BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha. He has been Governor of Bihar for the last three years. He always wanted to work for the poor and backward,” Shah said.

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, one of the three ministers in the BJP committee for talks on the next President, recalled that “in the past, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was elected President unanimously and there was an understanding among all major parties in the election of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam as well. BJP reached out to Opposition parties in the past during the election of Dr Kalam and again did so this time as well.”

BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, which has gone against the BJP decision in past presidential elections, has not committed its support yet. Shah was on the phone with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray — they had a meeting Sunday in Mumbai — and sought his party’s votes for the BJP choice. Sena leaders are expected to meet to take a decision.

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  1. j
    Jul 30, 2017 at 10:43 am
    very very very good and i like this
    1. H
      Harminder Singh
      Jun 20, 2017 at 8:28 am
      This Shah chappie is incorrigible for if this is all these two can CROAK about It then surely defines a depressed level of intelligentsia and of course doesnt weigh very heavily on their 3 yr old report card in other words MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in terms of achievement curiously enough it's amusing to see their expressions like a child who's just been given his first toffee😆😆😆😆😆 called K---d
      1. H
        Harminder Singh
        Jun 20, 2017 at 7:34 am
        What's the hullabaloo about over just another akin to Bahadur Shah Zaffar of tester years a rubber stamp
        1. H
          Harminder Singh
          Jun 20, 2017 at 7:35 am
          Yester years
        2. C
          Curious onlooker
          Jun 20, 2017 at 7:08 am
          What does Amit Shah mean by his observation about Ram Nath Kovind, the Governor of Bihar? Does he mean Kovindji is poor, which he is not, but must necessarily share the ill fortune of Dalits because he hails from that community? Or does he mean Kovindji's poor Dalit background because of his superior cir stances and therefore he is not even remotely in touch with his community?
          1. C
            Curious onlooker
            Jun 20, 2017 at 7:15 am
            Why the word "cir stances" mangled to read as "cir stances"?
            1. R
              Jun 20, 2017 at 8:34 am
              It seems Indian Express has a list of words that are deemed to be "inappropriate." If a term includes such a "bad" word, then the system rids that term of the "bad" component. T-I-T, C-U-M-S are examples of those bad words.
              1. C
                Curious onlooker
                Jun 20, 2017 at 11:33 am
                Thank you Mr Raja for enlightening. Again the system should not peruse if there is any input of letters forming an inappropriate syllable within a word and removing those letters only makes the word itslef unintelligible. That is a crazy machine.
            2. G
              George Cruz
              Jun 20, 2017 at 6:48 am
              The BJP's leader/strategist Amit Shah is 100 correct in saying that Ram Nath Kovind "born in a poor Dalit family who went the hard way up”. The BJP's motto is and has been to select honest, hardworking, and qualified candidates irrespective of religion/caste and this Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind is one amongst them. When asked by other Dalits for handouts and favors Ram Nath Kovind told "Just like I achieved success on my own, all of you should work hard too". The true facts are that the Dalits have been exploited by the opposition parties like the congress, the communists, the SP, and the BSP's Dalit Supremo Mayawati for their self interests and to use them as vote bank. The Communists/Christians/Dalits have shown crocodile tears towards the Dalits just to demonize the BJP and the patriotic organizations like the RSS/Hindutva but without providing any meaningful support.
              1. P
                Paddy Singh
                Jun 20, 2017 at 2:41 am
                When one has a wealthy man like Shah describe and subscribe to another's poor background, what does it really tell one? that the qualification to become a President of what is supposed to be a great country, needs one to be poor and a loyalist to the ruling party.
                1. A
                  Jun 19, 2017 at 11:53 pm
                  BJP has chosen Kovind because he is a dalit.He has been chosen for his cast.If you really felt a person from poor background should be promoted then there must be hundreds others more qualified. Congress used to butter upto dalits but now it seems BJP wants to go one step further in order to woo dalit votes.A president should not be chosen on political benefits.It would have been more diplomatic to have chosen someone who was not a BJP member.But I guess that is really asking too much from this govt which only considers benefits to party.Is it really astonishing that we are so low on development index when merit is no longer a consideration and only caste matters.I had hoped that with the rise of BJP we would not see caste being used as a factor.
                  1. B
                    Bhagavath B S
                    Jun 19, 2017 at 9:56 pm
                    opposition goons will have a tough time to decide, modi's magic, something different from others,is not?
                    1. P
                      Jun 20, 2017 at 2:40 am
                      Exactly. Scoundrel Chanakyan strategy.
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