Speculations are rife in political circles that NDA’s presidential nominee, Ram Nath Kovind will avoid meeting Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his residence when he visits Mumbai on Saturday. In the recent past Uddhav has attacked BJP over various issues including NDA proposed candidate Kovind. When Balasaheb Thackeray was alive almost every presidential candidate greeted him with due respect. Notably, Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, as presidential candidates of the UPA, had visited the then Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at his residence ‘Matoshree’ as the party had broken ranks with the NDA in the past two elections for the highest constitutional office. Uddhav had announced his party’s support for Kovind after a meeting of the Shiv Sena leaders last month. The Sena’s announcement to support Kovind had come amid sever strains in the relations of the party with the BJP over a host of issues. The party had earlier pitched for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat as its first preference for the top office.
After Bhagwat ruled himself out of the race, Sena suggested agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan’s name for the post, saying he will be able to provide solutions to the deepening agrarian crisis in several parts of the country. BJP president Amit Shah had met Thackeray last month at ‘Matoshree’ to enlist the party’s support for the NDA’s presidential candidate. Sena has 18 MPs and 63 MLAs.
The voting for the presidential election is scheduled on July 17 and the counting will take place on July 20, four days before President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends. Ram Nath Kovind, is B.Com, LLB from Kanpur University (Uttar Pradesh) has been a very successful lawyer. He was the Central Government Advocate in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and Central Government Standing Counsel in Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. Dalit leader by caste, a Hindutva ideologue by thinking and a dedicated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker by political affiliation – Kovind was born on October 1, 1945 at Kanpur Dehat. He belongs to the Dalit community Koli and had worked extensively in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and also has the backing of BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The reason for BJP proposing his name is to put on-going Dalit unrest and Dalit politics a full stop. In the recent past, BJP was tagged as upper caste political party which is anti-minority and anti-Dalit. Moreover Modi needed someone of RSS and at the same time someone who can remain a puppet in Modi’s hand. By all means he is at this moment a very appropriate candidate for BJP to serve multiple goals. Though, he is most non-controversial and no nonsense minister, in Parliament, Kovind served as member of several important Parliamentary Committees such as: Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs, Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, Parliamentary Committee on Law and Justice, Chairman of Rajya Sabha House Committee. Kovind had also been BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha chief from 1998 to 2002 and President of the All-India Koli Samaj.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar felt very happy as it was a matter of personal happiness for him that Bihar Governor has been nominated as the Presidential candidate. On his party’s stand, Kumar said it was not right to answer such questions now. But let it be RJD or JDU both rendered their yes to the candidate chosen by NDA. There will not be much opposition to this selection.
Kovind has served as the national spokesperson of the party. BJP even tried to project him as an alternative to Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. On 8th of August 2015, the President of India appointed him as the Governor of Bihar. He was elected to Rajya Sabha from state of Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006.
Kovind is also known as a pioneer in spreading education. During his parliamentary tenure of 12 years, Kovind emphasized on the development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas by helping in construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand under MPLAD scheme. As an advocate, Kovind took a lead in providing free legal aid to weaker sections of society, especially SC/ST women, needy and the poor under the aegis of “Free Legal Aid Society” in Delhi.
Kovind served as member of the board of management of BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He also served as member of board of governors of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. He also represented India in United Nations (New York) and addressed the UN General Assembly in October, 2002. Kovind is being credited of grooming several leaders for the BJP and the RSS. He is known for his proximity with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, but has also been a hard-core supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive.
However, the BJP is yet to decide on a name for the post of vice-president. The BJP Parliamentary Board had met to decide the presidential candidate at party headquarters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders present. The Board members were briefed about the consultation undertaken by a three-member party committee with allies and opposition parties. The committee members included Union ministers Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley, who were also the members of the Board.
The presidential polls will be held on July 17.
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