That Ram Nath Kovind would win the race to the Raisina was foretold, given the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) strength in the electoral college numerically. The 71-year-old became the 14th President of India after receiving around 66% of the total vote share. He will take up his seat following the oath which is scheduled to take place on July 25, 2017. Among many other things, this particular election was a strong message sent out by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which asserted the dominance of the Sangh Parivar on the political scenario of the country – all the top posts in the country are held by leaders of the BJP.
The election sends out a message of Dalit empowerment and why not? Dalits, after all, constitute 20% of India’s 1.2 billion population and have a major say in the political proceedings of the country. Kovind’s rise to the President of India comes at a very crucial time. Indo-Pak relations are at an all-time low and the geopolitical scenario of Europe and Asia is evolving rapidly. India stands at the juncture of these changes and we needed someone who could stand taller than the political system and exercise a president’s basic constitutional powers.
The Bihar governor was perhaps BJP’s best bet. Now that he is about to take office, here is some information about him. We’ll also discuss what Kovind’s priorities should be once he enters the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
“There would be many Ram Nath Kovinds today, getting drenched in the rain… sweating it out for their evening meals. I want to tell them that this Ram Nath Kovind is going to Rashtrapati Bhawan as their representative,” said an ecstatic Kovind upon his victory. In fact, this is something that has highlighted him all throughout his distinguished political career. He has been a crusader, a messiah for the minorities of the country for more than two decades now. The most prominent memories of him are of 1997 when he along with other SC/ST employees joined the movement against the central government for the passing of a particular order that affected their interests.
Apart from being private secretary to then Prime Minister Morarji Desai Kovind has been a parliamentarian for 12 years. His time as a Member of Parliament exposed him to the functioning of the Parliament. He is a veteran who has been in the system and hence understands the way things should work.
Not only did he represent the country at United Nations in New York but also addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 2002. This implies that the man set to be the next Indian President has experience of representing the country on an international stage as well.
There are concerns that India’s first single-party majority government in more than three decades could have an adverse impact on Indian polity – especially the judiciary. Then there are trepidations that a majoritarian triumphalism could leave certain parts of India’s minority – especially the Muslims, on edge. As of now, everything seems to be hanging in a balance and Kovind has to ensure that the political button among India’s premier institutions and its population be reset so that a better future can be ensured for the citizens. It will be President Kovind’s role to be vigilant and responsible of the constitution and its core values. He has to be much more than just a president, he has to be a moral presence that can connect various masses of India’s population and assure them their basic constitutional rights. He must use everything that he has at his disposal – a signal, a nudge, and a cautionary notice when the time comes.
Congratulations, Mr President.