New Delhi, July 21: Ram Nath Kovind, fielded by the ruling NDA for the top constitutional position, was elected the 14th President of India, with an overwhelming majority of votes from the electoral college on Thursday. The 71-year-old, former Bihar governor, who received 2,930 votes of 7,02,044 value, defeated former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, fielded by the Opposition, by votes of 3,35,330 value. Also Read - Amarinder Singh Condemns Haryana Govt's Attempts To Prevent Farmers March To Delhi
There are many narratives as to why the NDA chose Ram Nath Kovind for the highest office in India. One of them being the Bharatiya Janata Party’s bid to build and strengthen a strong Dalit vote base before the 2019 election. The BJP is also trying to promote itself as pro-poor, pro-Dalit political outfit. To hit on their point and BJP’s vision for Dalits, BJP president Amit Shah took to Twitter to announce that Ram Nath Kovind’s victory is for the “poor, oppressed and the marginalized.” Also Read - Congress Leader Ahmed Patel Laid to Rest in Gujarat’s Bharuch, Rahul Gandhi Attends Funeral
Being at the forefront of the project of expanding the party’s footprints across the nation, Amit Shah along with Narendra Modi solidified their voter base by Kovind’s nomination, which was a clear symbol of their vision for 2019 elections. Also, Kovind’s nomination is also being seen as BJP’s card to break Mayawati’s Dalit-Muslim vote bank. Dalits and Muslims account for 38.5 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population. Not to forget the candidature of Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu for the post of vice-president to expand the base of the party to South India.
In fact, the newly-elected President too hammered on the point in his first media address as President-elect. “It has been raining since morning in Delhi. This weather reminds me of my childhood days when I used to live in my ancestral village… We lived in a ‘kuchha’ house made of mud. The roof couldn’t stop the water trickles during the rainy season. I, along with my brothers and sisters, used to stand in a corner and wait for the rain to stop. There could be many such Ram Nath Kovinds who are getting drenched in the rain. Many are working hard to earn their livelihood in this rain. I represent all those hardworking people.”
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Kovind’s ascension to the President’s post is an indicator of the changes in the political map with the BJP and its allies taking over two-third of the votes. “Usually BJP would, as the opposition party, get less than a third of the vote in such a contest. It’s the other way around now,” BJP general secretary and Kovind’s election manager Bhupendra Yadav was quoted as saying by TOI.
KOVIND, CRUSADER OF RIGHTS OF WEAKER SECTION
The other narratives include the fact that Ram Nath Kovind has been a crusader for the Rights and Cause of Weaker Sections of the Society since his school days. He held important positions and has been former President of the BJP Dalit Morcha. He served as Member of Board of Management of Dr B.R Ambedkar University, represented India in United Nations (New York) and addressed United Nations General Assembly in 2002, and visited Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal, Germany among other countries on study tours as Member of Parliament.
KOVIND, RESPECTED ADVOCATE
Apart from that, Kovind is a hugely respected advocate. Kovind was the Central Government Advocate in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979, Central Government Standing Counsel in SC from 1980 to 1993. He also served as Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978. Kovind is also known as a man with clear image who emphasised on the development of education in rural areas of India, earning him respect from across the nation.
CROSS-VOTING IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2017
Kovind’s win was made stronger by cross-voting in poll-bound Gujarat and Goa. Congress party has 57 MLAs in Gujarat, but Kumar managed to get only 49 votes, with no vote declared invalid. In Goa, three of its MLAs cross-voted going in favour of Kovind. In Maharashtra where Congress and NCP have 83 MLAs, SP and CPI(M) have one each, Meira Kumar received only 77 votes.
Claiming that BJP got 116 additional votes, Bhupendra Yadav said, “We got more votes than expected in several states. In Jammu and Kashmir, we got 58 instead of 56. In Himachal Pradesh, we got 30 when we were expecting 26. In Madhya Pradesh, we got 171, we were expecting 165. In Maharashtra, we got 208 against 185, Karnataka 56 against 46, Tripura seven against zero, Puducherry 10 against zero, Chhattisgarh 52 against 47, Uttar Pradesh 335 against 324, Jharkhand 51 against 47, West Bengal 11 against 5, Assam 91 against 87.”
“More than 30 MPs in excess to our calculations voted for Kovind,” said a senior BJP leader. BJP politicians have also argued that a pan-India support will help the saffron party expand its footprints beyond the party’s existing political boundaries.