Ram Nath Kovind as a Presidential Candidate, a Dalit Outreach of BJP

As the presidential election approaches, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) declared Ram Nath Kovind – Governor of Bihar as a presidential candidate. This decision surprised people from various hues.

Following the official declaration of the BJP’s parliamentary board, Narendra Modi –the Prime Minister of India (PM) twitted, “I am sure Shri Ram Nath Kovind will make an exceptional President & continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden & marginalised.”

Shedding light on his contribution, PM wrote, “With his illustrious background in the legal arena, Shri Kovind’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation.”

In another tweet, PM added, “Shri Ram Nath Kovind, a farmer’s son, comes from a humble background. He devoted his life to public service & worked for poor & marginalised.”

Kovind hails from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Professionally, he is a lawyer who has proximity with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Many opposition parties will be uncomfortable with such affiliation.

The political pundits label this move as a masterstroke by the Modi Government in the backdrop of an intense Dalit uprising in Uttar Pradesh. Under the leadership of an educated Dalit youth, they organised a massive protest in Delhi where a huge number of youths attended in May.

With various subcategories, the Dalits constitute 20 per cent of the total population. With growing awareness, the Dalits are becoming vocal about their rights and posing a severe challenge to various political parties. Realising the importance of the Dalit Vote, various political parties are trying to woo the Dalits in the electoral politics.

If Kovind will be elected, he will be second Dalit President in India after KR Narayanan.

As Indian Express reported, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting which was attended by BJP national president Amit Shah and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj Nitin Gadkari. The BJP constituted a three-member team to pick a candidate for the election. In order to discuss the issue, this team interacted with various opposition leaders.

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