Ruling party BJP has proposed the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader and Bihar governor who once worked as an aide to late PM Morarji Desai, in a bid to placate isolated Dalit communities across the country.
While many see it as a belated attempt to reach out to the Dalit community, BJP is hoping that Kovind’s nomination would face little opposition from the opposition parties, especially the Congress, while NCP has already opposed the BJP candidate for the office of President of India.
A lawyer by education and training, Kovind is known to keep a low-profile without any controversies in his career and apparently maintained his scholarly and liberal face. BJP hopes that his presence in Rashtrapati Bhavan would send the message across the country that the BJP believes in befriending the Dalit community, which is upset over the suicide of University of Hyderabad student Vemula last year.
A lawyer who practised in Delhi, Kovind graduated in law from a Kanpur college, got selected in Allied services in Civil Services, but opted for his own practice as a lawyer. He became government counsel in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and Central Government Standing Counsel in Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978.
After practising in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993, he was elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh for two terms from 1994 to 2006. Former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha (1998-2002) and President of the All-India Koli Samaj, he was appointed Bihar governor in August 20