On Monday, 19 June, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah announced that current Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind will be the candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in next month’s Presidential election.
A two-term Rajya Sabha member, Kovind is an advocate by profession, having served in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.
The 2017 Indian Presidential election will be held on 17 July 2017; counting will take place on 20 July. The President is elected indirectly by the people through the people’s representatives in Parliament and the various state Assemblies.
If Kovind wins the upcoming election, he will become only the second person from the Dalit community to become President (after KR Narayanan).
The candidate of the Opposition is Meira Kumar. To know more about her, click here .
— BJP (@BJP4India) June 19, 2017
Who is Ram Nath Kovind?
Born in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh (UP), 71-year-old Kovind is the current governor of Bihar. A lawyer for 16 years, he practiced in the Delhi High Court (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC). Kovind enrolled as an advocate in 1971 before becoming Central Government Advocate in the Delhi HC from 1977 to 1979 and Central Government Standing Counsel in the SC from 1980 to 1993. He became Advocate-on-Record of the SC in 1978.
He joined politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from UP. He served two full terms in the Upper House, from 1994 to 2006. He was appointed governor of Bihar in 2015.
Kovind also represented India in the United Nations; he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 2002. He is a former President of the BJP Dalit Morcha (1998-2002) and President of the All-India Koli Samaj.
During his tenure in Parliament, Kovind served as Member on the following Parliamentary Committees:
- Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes,
- Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs,
- Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas,
- Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment,
- Parliamentary Committee on Law and Justice,
- Rajya Sabha House Committee.
Kovind served as Member of the Board of Management of Dr B.R Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He also served as Member of Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
NDA candidate for the 2017 Presidential election
To come to a consensus on its candidate for President, BJP had formed a three-member team composed of Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu. There were many rumours regarding the party’s nomination, with Lal Krishna Advani and Mohan Bhagwat rumoured to be favoured contenders.
The naming of Kovind was unprecedented and took even some of NDA’s allies off guard. Reacting to the development, NDA ally Shiv Sena said the BJP should have consulted its allies before naming the candidate. Sena MP Sanjay Raut, speaking with NDTV, said, “You made a three-member committee, Amit Shah has met other leaders, then what is the point in all this… They (BJP) have the complete freedom to choose the candidate, it is the biggest party, they lead the NDA, we have trust in the prime minister… BJP should have discussed the name with all the NDA constituents.”
Meanwhile, BJP leaders have begun meeting with Opposition leaders from Sonia Gandhi to Sitaram Yechury to try to reach a consensus before July’s election. On 22 July, they named former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their candidate.
NOTE: The article has been updated to include information about the Opposition’s Presidential candidate, Meira Kumar, who was announced as the candidate on 22 July.