Presidential elections 2017: Ram Nath Kovind as BJP's choice is another masterstroke by Modi

Which political party in its 'right' mind would dare oppose such a candidate for President?

 |  5-minute read |   19-06-2017
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Ram Nath Kovind, born October 1, 1945, is the present Governor of Bihar and the NDA candidate for the post of Indian President. 

Kovind is a Dalit leader and a politician from the BJP. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006. An advocate by profession who practised in Delhi, he was also an advocate on record in the Supreme Court and was popular in the Bar, known for his quiet and unassuming ways.

What is stunning about his possible anointment as the first citizen of our nation is the utter secrecy maintained by the administration and the masterstroke they have played with it. The opposition parties, which have been clamouring for a common candidate to oppose the NDA’s and were worried that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat could be the NDA's choice, must now be feeling outsmarted by the Modi administration which has anyway been constantly ahead in the race.

The US is the oldest democracy, India the largest. They have a presidential form of government while we have the Westminster model with parliamentary democracy. While Donald Trump's White House is leaking all over the place and Trump is fast and furious, is unable to plug it in. Fake news media is splashing true news and Trump can do nothing about it except to tweet that the mainstream media (MSM) is the "enemy of the people".

Ever since Narendra Modi took office, he too has been disdainful of the MSM - he has never once addressed a press conference or cared to take reporters along on his visits abroad. Modi has chosen the Mann ki Baat way and directly addresses citizens than through the press.

While former PM Manmohan Singh’s regime was a leak-an-hour regime on its last legs with the 2G, Commonwealth Games, and coal scams, during its second term - the present regime has been stupefyingly tightlipped and kept such "news" under wraps.

If the November 8, 2016, evening announcement of demonetisation was the high point - the present announcement to nominate Kovind as President, a Dalit who would be the second from the community to occupy the post after KR Narayanan, has taken the the wind out of the sails of the Opposition, already gasping for breath after the election loss in Uttar Pradesh.

Politically, Kovind has a lethal combination - he was born in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh, practised law in Delhi, and is now a Governor of Bihar. With his Dalit connect, which political party in its "right" mind would dare oppose such a candidate?  

It would be political harakiri for the Opposition to even seek a token contest. Surely, the Congress cannot be expected to lead the challenge. If they don’t, then the contest is a non-starter.

In a contest, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka could have posed problems for the NDA’s candidate. Now, that has been neutralised in one go. The Bihar and Dalit connect is too potent for even a diehard and dedicated opponent of Modi to contest. It is doomed and they know. This is a Chanakyan move.

bjp-embed_061917054206.jpgBJP selection committee members included Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley. Photo: PTI

But the stunning part of the move is the utter secrecy with which the Modi administration came up with his name. Its ability to do business on the inside, without a sniff on the outside, has knocked all the fight out of the Opposition. That is where one has to doff one’s hat to Modi.

Modi & Co have their animus against the MSM. But they have not explicitly talked or tweeted about it like Trump does all the time. Trump’s advisers are trumped all the time as he goes against the grain of wisdom. Modi has been different. He has tweeted not one syllable out of line or sync. He has spoken with confidence and conviction and yet kept the MSM at an arm’s length. The Fourth Estate being put in its place in a live, throbbing democracy seems strange, yet it is a reality.

For all the tall talk the media engages in, its investigative skills stand exposed, and the corridors and walls have simply stopped talking. One is not going into the merits of this "cloistered" environment but only recording it as a statement of fact or significance.

That is why the candidature of Kovind scores and scores for sure. There was not a whiff in the air of his name doing the rounds. The media was not even speculating. The Opposition was engaged in "consensus" talks without a name and editorials were written that NDA ought to "out the name" for meaningful engagement.

It appears that just like the demonetisation scheme or the RBI governor’s post to Urjit Patel, with the highest constitutional position in the land now, the Modi administration seems to have hit upon the name, held the cards, taken the Opposition on the garden path to the land of nowhere and delivered a coup with Ram Nath Kovind, a man with impeccable credentials and a Dalit to boot, making sure that his elevation is a sure-shot winner and ensuring that the Opposition would have nowhere to hide or raise even muted dissent against the candidate. A mortal blow delivered with panache.

Also read: Presidential elections 2017: Who is Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's candidate for President?


Vijayaraghavan Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan Narasimhan @narasimhan6

Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court.

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