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BJP names Ramnath Kovid as Presidential nominee
Facing the ire of Dalits, the Bharatiya Janata Party has played a political masterstroke by announcing Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovid as candidate for the next Presidential poll.
Kovid, who is Kori (Dalit) by caste, has climbed the ladder of success through his hard work. A known crusader for raising voice for SC, ST and OBC, Kovid was national spokesman of the BJP and practiced law in Supreme Court for 16 years.
As member of Rajya Sabha he was also part of several committees and was appointed as Governor of Bihar on August 8, 2015.
The NDA’s selection of Kovid as Presidential candidate has been immaculate. The announcement has come at a time when the BJP is facing the ire of dalits for being at the receiving end in BJP-ruled states. The beating of Dalits in Una (Gujarat) to caste conflict in Saharanpur (UP) where Dalits waged a war against upper castes has put BJP in a quandary.
His selection is an attempt to salvage the party’s position. In recently held UP poll, the BJP was able to wean away Dalits from Mayawati but the recent happenings in Saharanpur has helped the BSP to somewhat consolidate its position. Kovid’s nomination could help in arresting this slide and might help the BJP in coming Assembly poll.
The BJP’s announcement has put Opposition parties in a spot. They find themselves in a Catch 22 position and are not able to oppose Kovid’s nomination for the fear of being tagged as anti-Dalit.
BSP president Mayawati did not voice resentment over Kovid’s selection saying that how could her party oppose a Dalit. In a guarded statement on Monday, she said that her party would take a final call later.
Similar could be the case with Nitish Kumar as leaders from Bihar will have to think twice before opposing a Dalit. The Dalit factor coukl help many fence sitters to support the BJP nominee. In this way, the NDA would get the support of other parties and tide over the possibility of falling short of majority in the electoral college.
Congress may come out with Meeira Kumar as its Presidential candidate to counter Kovid but no official announcement has been made so far.
Kovid is the tallest Dalit face in BJP. He was former president of Dalit Morcha and was president of All-India Kori Samaj. He was member of Parliamentary committees especially that of welfare of scheduled castes/tribes, the parliamentary panel on social justice and empowerment and the committee on law and justice. In 1997 he led a stir of SC/ST Employees against an order which was later withdrawn.
An LLB from Kanpur, he practiced in Delhi High Court and then shifted to Supreme Court and was Government’s Standing Counsel for 13 years from 1980. He also took a lead in providing free legal aid to weaker sections especially SC/ST women.
Despite losing direct elections, he was member of Rajya Sabha for two terms from 1994 to 2006. In 2017, he contested Assembly election from Bhognipur in Kanpur but lost.
He has also represented India in the United Nations and addressed the UN General Assembly in October, 2002. As a Member of Parliament, Kovid visited Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and the USA.
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