KR Narayanan to RN Kovind - A tale of two Dalit Presidents

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Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind will be NDA's Presidential candidate, said BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday.

Three months after it reduced the mighty Bahujan Samaj Party to rubble in Uttar Pradesh elections, BJP's decision to catapult a Dalit from the state, Ram Nath Kovind, to Rashtrapati Bhavan is part of a calculated plan to consolidate the gains in the northern region besides throwing a symbolic net to the community across the country.

Reacting to Mayawati's "Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should have selected a name from a non-political background which will be better" remark, NCP leader Majeed Memon said the former can not openly oppose a Dalit candidate so she went the other way.

The BJP's decision to go ahead with a moderate and relatively unknown Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as their Presidential choice has not just surprised the opposition but has also driven further differences into the hard consensus pursued by the parties.

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First up, an honest confession: I had no clue that the Modi-Shah duo were planning to make Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind the candidate of the ruling coalition for "Mahamahim" (President) of India. He dedicated his life to open administration and worked for poor and underestimated. "Shri Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation", the PM tweeted.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed happiness over the state governor's candidature for the president's post, but stopped short of committing support to the NDA nominee. In the recent past, BJP was tagged as an upper caste political party which is anti-minority and anti-Dalit. The ruling TRS in Telangana has also supported Kovind's nomination. "The final call will be taken in a meeting of all opposition parties on June 22", Azad told reporters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even spoke to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over phone today to seek consensus over the candidate. He was a Rajya Sabha MP and the former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha. The Kanpur-born ex-lawyer is a Dalit leader, known for organisational skills and a loyal BJP member. "The BJP also discussed the issue with all political parties and several sections of the society". Insiders said, the BJP leaders were wary of an Opposition mahagatbandhan - comprising Mayawati, Akhilesh and the Congress - happening in UP in 2019.

The election for the next President of India is to be held on July 17 as President Pranab Mukherjee will demit the office on July 24. "All the opposition parties will try to reach a common decision", he added.

If the Congress and other opposition parties support BJP's candidate, then there would be no presidential poll; otherwise an election will take place in case they put up a rival candidate.

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