JAIPUR: In a shocking comment, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said that President Ram Nath Kovind was appointed to the post because of his caste, which left the BJP veteran leader LK Advani out in the race.
Speaking to media persons, Gehlot said: "Because elections were coming in Gujarat, they were perplexed that they are not going to form a government in the state. I believe that this appointment of Ram Nath Kovind for the post of President was in order to appease the caste semantics. Advani got left out in this."
The statement by Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister comes a day before the voting for the second phase of elections will be conducted ion 91 parliamentary constituencies of the country.
Earlier in June 2017, soon after the announcement of Kovind's name for the President post by NDA government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also commented that Kovind was chosen as a nominee for the post just for being the leader of Dalit Morcha while batting for Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani for the post.
"I am not saying that the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is unfit to be the President. I have spoken to other Opposition leaders, they are also surprised. There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he was the leader of Dalit Morcha of BJP they have made him the candidate. The office of President is a key post. Someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani ji may have been made the candidate", she had said.
On July 20, National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) candidate Ram Nath Kovind was declared as the 14th President of India after he won the Presidential election by a margin of 3,34,730 votes defeating his nearest rival Meira Kumar.
Kovind was serving as the Governor of Bihar before being contesting for the presidential elections.
A lawyer by profession, Kovind has worked extensively in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Kovind has been the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Scheduled Caste Morcha chief (1998-2002) and the President of the All-India Koli Samaj. He also served as the national spokesperson of the party.
The saffron party had even tried to project him as an alternative to Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. Kovind was enrolled as an advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council of Delhi. He became the Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court in 1978 and practised in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993.
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006. He was appointed as the Governor of Bihar on August 8, 2015.
Kovind served as a member of the board of management of the BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He also served as a member of the board of governors of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
Kovind also represented India in the United Nations (New York) and addressed the UN General Assembly in October, 2002.