Known for springing many a surprise, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo stunned everyone this time as well when the BJP announced the name of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA's candidate for Presidential elections. Low-profile and non-controversial, Kovind, a lawyer from UP's Kanpur Dehat, may not be a popular face, but his selection for the country's top constitutional post is being dubbed as a political masterstroke by the BJP leadership because of his strong Dalit roots and sustained work for the downtrodden sections of the society, which will make him endear him to other political parties.
BJP chief Shah said the party's parliamentary board went through a long list of potential candidates before choosing Kovind, who was its MP in the Rajya Sabha for two terms and headed its Dalit Morcha.
Kovind has never been an RSS pracharak and came to be associated with the Sangh Parivar much later after joining the BJP in 1991. Many said that he only has nodding acquaintance with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.Yet, Kovind's candidature has been lauded by the RSS with the outfit's spokesman Prof Rakesh Sinha describing him as “a flawless person“ and “a man with a clear vision“.
Poised to be the country's 14th President, Kovind will be the only Dalit after KR Narayanan to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan. With this move, the BJP, which has been seeking to widen its base beyond its traditional constituencies of upper castes and trading classes, will further consolidate its base amid the Dalits. Sources say that a Dalit Presidential candidate from UP will provide a “healing“ touch to the recent incidents of Thakur-Dalit clashes in Saharanpur,Meerut.