New Delhi, June 20: In a surprising move, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as NDA’s presidential candidate. Ram Nath Kovind, who hails from the Dalit community, is likely to file his nomination on June 23. Describing Islam and Christianity as ‘alien to the country’, Ram Nath Kovind, back in 2010, had opposed reservation for religious minorities. Kovind had argued that Dalit Christians and Muslims get better education in convent schools.

Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi in 2010, Ram Nath Kovind, then BJP spokesperson, called for scrapping the Ranganath Misra commission report. The Ranganath Misra commission had recommended 10 percent reservation for Muslims and five percent for other minorities in government jobs and favored Scheduled Caste status for Dalits in all religions. On being asked how Sikh Dalits were enjoying the quota privilege in the same category. but not Muslims and Christians, Kovind said, “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation.” (ALSO READ: BJP declares Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as Presidential candidate, seek support of all parties)

“The educational level of Scheduled Caste children remains much lower than that of convert Dalits and Muslims. The children of converts will grab major share of reservation in government jobs. They would become eligible to contest elections on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. This would encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of Indian society,” an IANS report quoted Ram Nath Kovind as saying. “The Misra commission report should be scrapped because (its recommendations) will jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes,” Kovind added.

According to political analysts, the BJP has played another masterstroke by choosing Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential nominee. The saffron party hopes to continue to bolster its credentials in the Dalit community with the selection of Kovind. If elected as the President of India, which appears to be a certainty, the 71-year-old former lawyer would be only the second Dalit to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan after K R Narayanan.