Prime Minister’s presidential master stroke
Published: 20th June 2017 04:00 AM |
The suspense is over. The BJP top brass has chosen Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate. Is this a surprise? Not really. There was never as much speculation around Kovind as around other probables, but he was in the reckoning from the early days along with Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu. That’s before the names of Sumitra Mahajan and Thawar Chand Gehlot attracted the attention of a hyperventilating media.
The PM has obviously considered the criterion of suitability carefully, in terms of understanding of constitutional-legal matters. A Supreme Court lawyer who also cleared the civil service with great effort, Kovind would not be found wanting in the knowledge of administration or statute book. That he’s a Dalit politician from Kanpur, with intellectual heft to boot, adds to the lustre and makes it difficult for the Opposition, particularly Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, to oppose him. The latter has already hailed the choice.
For the Yadav clan of UP and BSP chief Mayawati too, it’s a tricky call. Kovind has long served as an alternative for the BJP to Mayawati’s Dalit politics. Maybe not in the same in-your-face way, but certainly as a quiet presence. He has helmed the BJP’s Dalit wing and represented the state in the Rajya Sabha, before being made governor. His elevation to the highest office could have a spinoff beyond a thank-you to UP for its overwhelming support to the BJP in the last two elections. Political pundits would read it as a master stroke that could impact how Dalits in UP vote in 2019—or Gujarat this year. Read this against the Una protests and the Bhim Army.
But as a man who donated his ancestral property for public use, his candidature may evoke sentiments beyond social engineering. In short, there’s little that the detractors can find against Kovind apart from maybe his penchant to correct those who mispronounce words!