If one searches for public speeches of the NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind online, there are not a lot of videos one would find. There are hardly four or five, most of which were probably made after he was appointed the Governor of Bihar in 2015. This perhaps explains why Kovind is seen as a ‘low-profile leader’ even within the BJP of which he has been a member for decades. But there is a common thread in these videos – the fact that the Governor is articulate and coherent in his addresses and fluent in both the languages of Hindi and English.
In one of the speeches, Kovind, a Dalit leader from the Koli community in Uttar Pradesh, echoes the thoughts of Dr. BR Ambedkar when he talks about women empowerment in the country. Speaking in Hindi, the Bihar Governor quoted Ambedkar saying that even when women, who formed half of the population of the country, were given voting rights, they had no claims to hereditary rights in the ancestral property.
In another video, the Bihar Governor is seen giving an address after inaugurating a new building of the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library in Patna, Bihar. In a short address, punctuated by claps from the audience, Kovind is seen talking about the importance of books and libraries in the world. He quotes Jorge Luis Borges saying, ‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’
There is also a video of Kovind, then a Rajya Sabha MP of the BJP in 2000, explaining why he supports the Companies Amendment Bill. The MP, in a brief summation, goes on to dissect the amendments of the bill in a coherent manner.
At yet another event, Kovind was seen talking quite extensively about youth power and how to exploit effectively the demographic dividend in the country. “Young people not only know how to dream, but they also know how to realize their dream,” he says to cheers from the applause.
While past presidents of the country have largely deviated from making strong political speeches, Kovind, who has stayed out of the media limelight and never once indulged in ideological clashes with Nitish Kumar, is expected to toe a similar line. But similar to Pranab Mukherjee, who did time and again lecture on the values of tolerance and equality, the country could hear something similar from a President Kovind too.