The ascension of Ram Nath Kovind for the post of the first citizen of India came as a no surprise to the town that has already been painted saffron. Opposition’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar was defeated in an easy election by the former Bihar governor, becoming the second Dalit candidate to be the president elect. A media shy person with ideologies in complete sync with that of our PM, Kovind boasts of great organizational skills and loyalty to the BJP. The Kanpur born is known for heading the Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002 and also leading the All-India Koli Samaj.
When the former lawyer was chosen as the NDA’s candidate, the opposition was in a dire need to find a Dalit face. Being the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha and five times Lok Sabha MP was just an add-on for Presidential candidate Meira Kumar. Moreover, there have been speculations that the BSP chief and ex-Rajya Sabha member Mayawati had a key role in the nomination, which does not come as a surprise considering the party’s only agenda is Dalit empowerment.
Nitish Kumar, the CM of Bihar staunchly supported the Bihar Governor despite RJD Chief Lalu Prasad advising him against it. Nitish Kumar announcing himself as being ill and bedridden on the days Meira Kumar visited Bihar to garner support only made his decision more clear to the UPA. This is not the first time Nitish Kumar has taken a stance different from his allies, the previous instance being when he supported the Ex President Pranab Mukherjee, who was UPA’s presidential candidate while being a part of the NDA. The step to pledge support to Kovind taken by the former and current CM of Bihar marked the beginning of the disintegration of the MahaGathBanthan in Bihar. Nitish Kumar has received praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the bold move of resigning as the CM of Bihar, thereby ending his party’s grand alliance with old rivals RJD. He has now joined hands with former ally BJP, making Bihar the newest addition to Modi’s league of saffron states. Nitish Kumar took oath as the CM of Bihar on Thursday just hours after he resigned. Sushil Kumar Modi of BJP was sworn in as the Deputy CM of Bihar.
Despite the success of BJP bringing themselves back into the game of Bihar politics stealing the headlines on all news channels, the new Modi-loyal President might be a better-placed bet than the media speculates it to be. Out of the 747 in order MP votes, 522 were in Ram Nath Kovind’s favour while 225 were in support of Meira Kumar. The victory margin was the lowest since the 1974 presidential polls. KR Narayan, the only previous Dalit to be the Commander-in-chief of the three forces, had the highest winning margin of 94.97% since 1974. The low percentage in victory margins of the previous elections was mainly due to the syndicate within Congress which indulged in cross-voting. Even this year, Sonia Gandhi led UPA was embarrassed in the election due to this practice. In the states of Gujarat, Delhi, Goa and Maharashtra opposition members favoured Kovind, denting the already low chances of a win for the former Lok Sabha Speaker. More than 100 legislators have cross-voted in favour of Kovind.
The role of president of India is only ceremonial but can be important if elections throw up fragmented mandates. The president’s rule or the Governor’s rule comes into force once the state’s constitutional machinery fails or when there is no clear majority in a state election. President’s Rule might be imposed in states where communal tensions would be heightened as the elections approach. A great impact could possibly be felt in the Assembly elections slated later this year, such as in Gujarat, as well as in the next year, such as in Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, and Tripura.
The win speaks volumes about the support Ram Nath Kovind enjoyed from various political parties and independents, and would certainly aid the BJP to have an upper hand in the 2019 elections. The Modi-Shah duo’s planning seems to have done wonders for the party with Kovind being the only BJP candidate to be ever elected to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The complete decimation of the opposition and painting the nation saffron are likely to remain the priorities of the NDA, and their shot to fame.
By Vaibhav Kaushik