NEW DELHI: Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind will be the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Presidential nominee.
The surprise choice of Mr. Kovind’s name was made on Monday by BJP chief Amit Shah at a news conference here, saying that party’s parliamentary board had finalised his name.
Calling the BJP-NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind a farmer’s son, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he will make an exceptional President. “I am sure Ram Nath Kovind will make an exceptional President & continue to be a strong voice for the poor, downtrodden & marginalised,” Mr Modi tweeted minutes after the formal announcement. “With his illustrious background in the legal arena, Mr. Kovind’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation,” Mr. Modi said in another tweet. He said that Mr Kovind, who comes from a humble background has devoted his life to public service and worked for poor and marginalised. Known to keep a low profile, Mr. Kovind is a lawyer by profession and has headed BJP’s Dalit wing and was a Rajya Sabha member for 12 years. He has also been a party spokesperson. He completed his education from Kanpur University in Uttar Pradesh. Though he began his career with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), BJP’s ideological mentor, Mr. Kovind is not knows for his hardline views. Extremely soft spoken and gentle, his approach has been to take everyone along.
Born on October 1, 1945, Mr. Kovind comes from a humble background and his family hails from rural area of Kanpur, a bustling industrial town in North India.
He was appointed Governor of Bihar three years ago when the Modi government took office in New Delhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, while welcoming his nomination, said that his gubernatorial stint in Patna’s Raj Bhawan has been very cordial.
Mr. Kovind is scheduled to arrive in the Capital on Monday evening. His Presidential nomination is likely to be filed on June 23. President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24 and the Presidential election process will be completed by July 20.
The main opposition party Congress criticised the manner in which the BJP “unilaterally” announced the candidature of Mr. Kovind. “This kind of unilateral, full-fledged announcement was not expected…The Opposition parties have decided to meet on June 22 for consultations,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here.
He said after the three-member BJP panel had met the Congress president and other opposition leaders, it was expected that the BJP-led NDA would first discuss the “specific names” with the opposition parties.
Prime Minister Modi has already spoken to his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha in a bid to evolve a consensus on the name of Mr. Kovind. As the ruling NDA dispensation is comfortably placed, Mr. Kovind’s election as the country’s next President will be a smooth affair. By nominating a Dalit leader as the next tenant of Rashtrapati Bhawan, the BJP hopes to expand its base among lower castes, downtrodden, oppressed and deprived sections of the society.