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Can Ram Nath Kovind’s Elevation as President change the Dalit mindset towards the BJP !

The Chief Justice of India, Shri Justice J.S. Khehar administering the oath of the office of the President of India to Shri Ram Nath Kovind at a swearing-in ceremony in the central hall of Parliament, in New Delhi on July 25, 2017.

The country is seeing a major shift in power equations with the President and Prime Minister belonging to backward classes. Come August fifth, history will be created with the Lotus party occupying the three crucial offices of the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister.  

After nearly seven decades of independence, ordinary citizens from backward classes are making their presence felt by occupying key constitutional positions in the country which invariably remained the preserve of the elite in the past. 

This is particularly so in the case of Ram Nath Kovind hailing from a poor family who has the distinction of being the first Head of State from Uttar Pradesh in his capacity as the country’s fourteenth President. 

The significance of the Bharatiya Janata party having one of its nominees occupying the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan for the first time since last Tuesday, July 25, 2017, is a major milestone.

The Lotus party is expected to run away with the office of Vice – President on August fifth next month when the election takes place. It is a matter of great prestige for the saffron brigade that its leaders will not only be holding the offices of President, Prime Minister and very soon that of Vice President. 

History is being created in the country that the triumvirate of the top three leaders owe their allegiance to the BJP which was established less than four decades back in1980.   

The credit for this achievement viewed as a masterstroke must go to the indefatigable Prime Minister Narendra Modi for zeroing in on barrister Kovind from the RSS stable who had barely completed three years as the Governor of Bihar. 

Given his humble background coupled with being a low profile politician, his family was over the moon as they had least expected that Kovind will become the country’s President. He will be the second Dalit President of the country, the first being K R Narayanan. 

The underlying message is unmistakable. Anyone irrespective of their caste or creed can aspire to reach the top, thanks to this country’s democratic system. 

It has taken a long time for this country to reach a stage where both occupants of the office of President and Prime Minister are from backward classes. This represents a major shift in the country’s politics bringing about a change in power equations. With power percolating down to the grassroots away from the elite, it is bound to lead to forces and movements of its own.  

The question is can Kovind’s elevation as the country’s First Citizen provide the soothing effect in bringing round the 21 per cent oppressed and depressed Dalits in the country. On his part Kovind has spoken about ensuring equality of opportunity for everyone in the country. 

The lackadaisical and disjointed state of the opposition appears nowhere near getting its act together in challenging the BJP-led NDA anytime soon. NCP leader Omar Abdullah’s frustrated assertion recently to “forget 2019 and prepare for the 2024 (general elections)” appears to makes sense. 

The BJP gained enormously by naming its Presidential candidate well in advance with the Congress biding its time in naming the opposition nominee. For the 18-party opposition it was a losing battle which was apparent from the word go. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar knew it was a futile battle for her though she put up a brave front in the circumstances.  

The BJP’s resounding victory in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh recently was on account of its gambit of wooing the most backward among the Dalits and other oppressed sections which paid rich dividends. It facilitated the party winning nearly three fourths of the seats in the 403-member state assembly while regaining power after a gap of 17 years. 

Being the largest state in the country, UP contributes the maximum number of 80 seats to the Lok Sabha. Being in power in UP with a stunning majority sidelining the regional satraps cannot be dismissed as a fluke. 

During the April-May general elections in 2014, the BJP managed a mind blowing 71 seats on its own with two more being garnered by its allies. This took the Lotus party’s tally to 73 out of the 80 seats. 

It was the Hindi heartland that made the day for Modi giving the BJP a majority of 282 seats on its own for the first time in the Lok Sabha. Along with its allies the BJP led NDA crossed the rubicon of 300 finishing with a comfortable 340 odd seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. 

Modi became the undisputed leader of the saffron brigade and has enlarged its sphere of influence by bagging Assam for the first time seen as the gateway to the Northeast. The Modi wave in 2014 was unmistakable as he held sway over the masses making a multitude of pledges none of which have materialised over the last 36 months and more.  

Even though nothing can be taken for granted, the general elections in 2019 appears irretrievably tilted in Modi’s favour. The opposition has suffered a major setback with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar abandoning the ‘Mahagatbandhan’ and joining hands with the BJP in retaining power in Patna. For now Modi is way, way ahead of all the other leaders in the popularity charts.    

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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