NEW DELHI: Ram Nath Kovind was on Thursday declared elected as the next President of India. He will be sworn in on July 25 at a ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament, taking over as the country’s 14th President from Pranab Mukherjee.
Mr. Kovind, 71, scored an easy win over the combined opposition-backed candidate Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker. He will be the second Dalit President of the country after K. R. Narayanan.
“I never aspired to be the president; my win is a message to those discharging their duties with integrity,’’ he said in first comments after his electoral victory. He won tw-third of the votes cast by an electoral college comprising MPs and state legislators. Mr. Kovind was the surprise choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to run for the presidency. At the time of his nomination as the BJP-led NDA’s presidential candidate, he was occupying the Bihar Raj Bhawan as the State Governor. He has also served two terms as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Hailing from a humble background from rural area of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Kovind had taken up legal profession and appeared in a number of cases in Delhi High Court as well as the Supreme Court. He had joined the BJP and has well-entrenched background of the party’s ideological mentor, RSS. He belongs to a family of farmers and is known to be a low-profile person of simple lifestyle
“It is a great responsibility, my job will be to uphold and protect the Constitution. My election to this post is a sign of the greatness of India’s democracy,” Mr Kovind said.
While polling in the presidential elections had taken place in Parliament and State Assemblies, counting began at 11 a.m. when the ballot box of MPs was opened first, followed by those received from the States in alphabetical order.
After the election of senior BJP leader and Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu as the country’s next Vice President on August 5, it would be for the first time in the past seven decades that three top posts in the country – President, Vice President and the Prime Minister – would have gone to persons with RSS-BJP background. The BJP never had it so good in the mainstream political life of the country. Mr. Kovind’s candidature was supported by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) which broke away from the ranks of the Opposition parties.
The ruling BJP has not only tried to bolster its pro-poor image as a party devoted to the uplift of sections of Dalits, downtrodden, deprived and backward but also made an attempt to strike a balance between North and South by picking Mr. Naidu for the country’s second highest constitutional post.