Bihar corners limelight in the ensuing Presidential elections due to be held on 17 July 2017.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party has named the Bihar Governor, Ram Nath Kovind, as its candidate for the country’s topmost position, the Congress had reportedly been toying with the idea of fielding former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, daughter of the iconic dalit leader from Bihar, late Babu Jagjivan Ram.
Kovind’s name for the top post seems to have stumped the Opposition parties. It is likely that Kovind gets the support of Janata Dal (U), the key partner of the ruling RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance in Bihar. Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar has welcomed the BJP move to make Kovind the Presidential nominee. After Kovind’s name was announced, Kumar called on him and greeted him with a bouquet at the Raj Bhavan in Patna at 4 pm on June 19, 2017. He was quoted as saying: “Matter of happiness for me personally. As for support, it’s too early to say. As Bihar governor, he’s impartial and maintained an ideal relationship with the state government.”
Before departing for New Delhi from Patna, Kovind congratulated the people of Bihar and expressed hopes of Bihar’s progress.
Born in Kanpur on October 1, 1945 to a farming family, Kovind studied law and practiced in Delhi high court and the Supreme Court for about 16 years before he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994. He was appointed Bihar Governor on August 8, 2015. If elected, he will be the second Dalit Indian President after KR Narayanan. His selection has also puzzled BJP’s rivals in Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party champions the cause of the dalits, has been quoted as saying that her party’s stand on Kovind will be positive “provided the opposition does not field any Dalit”. Incidentally Mayawati and Kovind belong to the same Dalit sub-caste, Chamar. It is to be seen whether or not BJP’s another rival in UP, the Samajwadi Party, supports Kovind, who may become the first President from UP ( late Mohammad Hidayatullah who hailed from UP, had served as acting President between July 20, 1969 and August 24, 1969 and thereafter between October 6, 1982 and October 31, 1982).
Ironically, rifts appear within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance where the uncomfortable ally, the Shiv Sena’s chief Uddhav Thackeray was quoted as saying, “There is an attempt to play politics over Dalit
prez nominee. In that case we’re not interested in backing him.”