Inside track: Cleared in two minutes

BJP president Amit Shah was convinced of Ram Nath Kovind’s suitability for the post from the beginning. Ram Nath Kovind’s name was not opposed or even debated by anybody at the BJP’s parliamentary board. The motion was proposed by Shah and passed in two minutes.

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Published: June 25, 2017 2:34 am
ram nath kovind, narendra modi, lk advani, bjp, presidential candidate PM Narendra Modi, LK Advani and NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, walk to Parliament House to file Kovind’s nomination papers for the presidential elections in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Cleared in 2 minutes

Narendra Modi wanted a presidential candidate who would have suitable stature, not be perceived as a rubber stamp, and also send a social message. The RSS stipulated that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to select a candidate from the Sangh Parivar, which was the reason nominated Rajya Sabha MP Narendra Jadhav was considered unsuitable. Names such as Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu and Minister for Social Justice Thawar Chand Gehlot, an SC and ST respectively, were in the shortlist.

Better known upper-caste BJP stalwarts such as L K Advani, Sumitra Mahajan, Venkaiah Naidu and Murli Manohar Joshi figured only in media speculation. A tentative bid within the BJP to moot Sushma Swaraj, who was likely to be backed by a section of the Opposition including Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar with the tacit nod of the Congress, was nipped in the bud. Amit Shah, however, was convinced of Ram Nath Kovind’s suitability for the post from the beginning. He had travelled extensively with him during the 2014 campaign in UP. Kovind’s name was not opposed or even debated by anybody at the BJP’s parliamentary board. The motion was proposed by Shah and passed in two minutes.

No diaspora meet

Initially a big NRI meet was planned in Houston on the lines of the ones held earlier in New York and California during the PM’s visit to the US this month. However, the proposal was cancelled as it was felt that, in the era of Donald Trump, such displays of ethnic migrants’ organisational skills are frowned upon by the US government. Even Ram Madhav, who normally makes the arrangements for Modi’s interactions with the diaspora, did not accompany him on this visit since he is attending the Horasis Global Conference in Switzerland. Modi will, however, be hosting a meet with representatives from various Indian organisations in the US.

Tweet makeover

Congress media in-charge Randeep Surjewala and other members of his team met at Lodi restaurant in Delhi to do a bit of brainstorming on behalf of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress vice-president left abruptly for a trip to Italy in the middle of important developments back home, including farmers’ agitations in several states and the selection of a presidential candidate. Rahul’s tweet announcing his trip simply mentioned that he had gone on holiday to meet his grandmother. The spin doctors felt that Rahul should have mentioned that his grandmother was 93 years old and ailing.

After much deliberation the media team decided that Rahul should put out a tweet that wherever he  is, he is monitoring developments back home. Incidentally, Rahul was abroad on his 47th birthday, an age at which he can no longer be considered youthful, in fact he is well into middle age.

Chatur baniya okay 

In Gujarat, Amit Shah’s remark describing Mahatma Gandhi as a “chatur baniya” is not seen as an insult but a compliment. Shah would know, he is a baniya himself and though some make the mistake of categorising him as a Jain baniya, he is, in fact, a Vaishnavite. On June 17, while visiting Mumbai, Shah took time off for a felicitation ceremony at a packed auditorium held by the Shree Navgam Visanagar Vanik Samaj.

The Samaj is a society for Vaishnavite baniya migrants from nine villages around Mansa, Gujarat, who have migrated to Mumbai. Mansa near Mehsana is Shah’s home village. The Vanik Samaj surprised Shah by producing an entire documentary film on him from his childhood to his college days with rare pictures of him, his family and his ancestors.

No consensus

As part of the committee to form a consensus on the candidate for president, Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh met Sonia Gandhi. But instead of mutual agreement, there was a disagreement. Naidu explained that Amit Shah had set up the committee to keep the Opposition in the loop. Sonia responded curtly, pointing out that the BJP should first come out with a name, and that the Opposition needed to know if the candidate was an RSS man. Naidu shot back that the BJP was not taken into confidence by the Congress when it selected Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee as presidential nominees.

Patriot games

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has tried to outdo the BJP on playing the nationalist card. He has issued a directive that mammoth sized the Tricolour flags and flag poles be erected at all district headquarters in the state. Last year, the CM had a huge flag installed on a 291-foot-high mast in Hyderabad. The Chief Minister has ordered that flag poles in other districts should be at least 100 feet high.

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  1. Ivan
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:09 am
    Dalits here, dalits there, just as it was under the Congress. Nothing changes. Oh and we are supposed to think this man selected in under two minutes as the best India has to offer?
    1. Employ Ment
      Jun 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm
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      1. L
        Jun 25, 2017 at 10:44 pm
        Indira Gandhi opposed Sanjeev Reddy in 1969, but proposed V V Giri and got him elected as president. Subsequently, Faqruddin Ahmed, Giani Zail Singh were her choice. Nobody dared to oppose her. A true Iron Lady.
        1. Seshubabu Kilambi
          Jun 25, 2017 at 7:52 pm
          When the boss presents a name, the yes men have little to complain
          1. R
            Jun 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm
            where is the need for anyone to oppose the presidential candidate ? congress is doing for its own hollowness-triggered bloated egos and whims born out of fully exposed colossal failures in the eyes of even every high-schooler of the Nation who is a far better-informed and balanced citizen of the Nation than any of the entire UPA-ministers' atrociously poor-intellect put together.....congress was just running on a clout of a "jee hujoori" stooges of an italian housewife perpetrating a ""(corruption)chalta hai" culture for which they were disgracefully ousted .
            1. A
              Jun 25, 2017 at 11:06 pm
              When the govt is run by 2 persons,who would have the guts to oppose or propose an alternative.Imagine both Congress and BJP can only find suitable candidates in dalits.Are there no worthy's in the remaining 80 of Indian population(80 96 Cr people)?Why is the dalit vote so important ?They number 17 of population,and yet both parties are pandering only to them.The remaining 80 is for some reason taken for granted.There are surely at least a 100 people more literate,more experienced with a vast knowledge of history ,culture and science who would have added value to the office of President.The BJP nominee has probably made 2 speeches in all the time spent in Parliament.Not exactly a person who voices concerns or has many inputs.Perhaps that is the USP.
              1. R
                Jun 26, 2017 at 2:48 am
                howsoever silly you sound in your whole arguement, I can grant you 'innocence out of ignorance'. Mr. Kovind is a learned man and will ensure no obstruction or sabotage of NDA's economic-development-oriented good and honest governance takes place by a frustrated ancient almost-fatally-wounded corrupt-colonial-congress which has enough loot of 65yrs to create nuisance in the country.....and to that extent you can be certain, Mr. Kovind is a strong -president-to-be to counter sonia's continued mischief with the paid-support of sp, bsp, some compulsive anti-BJP media people, etc., who are all in doldrums.
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