New Delhi, June 19: By selecting Ram Nath Kovind, a dalit leader, as its candidate the presidential election, the BJP has spurred fence-sitters into action.
Within hours of the announcement of Kovind’s candidature, TRS has declared its support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice for the country’s top office. YSR Congress, headed by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, reiterated its support to the BJP.
The electoral college for the presidential election has a vote value of 10.98 lakh and comprises 4896 electors – elected members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and elected members of legislative assemblies of states and union territories.
If the BJP manages to keep the NDA intact it has the assured support of 48% of the total electoral college. The BJP has already secured the support of AIADMK, YSR Congress who together make up 7% of the electoral college.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, whose TRS commands 2% votes in the electoral college, announced his support for Kovind’s candidature after the Prime Minister spoke to him. YSR Congress too reiterated its support.
The BJP is banking on the support of BJD which has about 3% votes in the electoral college, placing Kovind with a comfortable support of 60% of the total vote share.
The Bihar Governor’s candidature has put Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in a fix as it feels that the party could not be seen opposing a Dalit. However, the Bihar Chief Minister has conveyed to his opposition colleagues that he would stand by their decision.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has played the ‘son-of-the-soil’ card while canvassing support the Kanpur-born Kovind in an attempt to sway the SP and the BSP.
It is NDA partner Shiv Sena that is playing hardball with the BJP. Sena President Thackeray said his party – with 2.34% voteshare – will not support Kovind’s candidature if vote bank politics was the reason for his selection.
The opposition block, led by the Congress, has 35% votes and would be looking at making a dent in the NDA ranks hoping for cross voting by parties such as the Shiv Sena.
The AAP with 85 MLAs and four MPs has a vote value of 8922 and has announced to vote with the opposition block despite Congress keeping it away from the grouping.
A lawyer, Dalit leader…
After much hype and suspense, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind was named as the NDA’s presidential candidate on Monday following the intensive BJP parliamentary board meeting at party’s headquarters in New Delhi.
A lawyer by profession, a 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, Uttar Pradesh.
Kovind 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).
Kovind, a B.Com, LLB from Kanpur University (Uttar Pradesh) has been a very successful lawyer. He was Central Government Advocate in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and Central Government Standing Counsel in Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993.
He became Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978. He had practiced in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years until 1993. Kovind was enrolled as an advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council of Delhi.
Kovind was elected to Rajya Sabha in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh and served for two consecutive terms for 12 years till March, 2006.
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.
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 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, specially 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.
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind 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