A Dalit leader, NDA's Presidential nominee Kovind is a known crusader for weaker sections

A Dalit leader, NDA


 New Delhi:  A soft spoken sensitive and known for his low-profile approach Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader from Uttar Pradesh, is a surprise choice of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah duo for the ensuing Presidential elections. Nothing is permanent except change is a maxim that would apply eminently to the possible future President of India. A former socialist leader recalls that Mr Kovind often used to admire the sensitivity of a poetic line or a couplet: ‘Band karo yeh khat likhne ki badi, yeh pata badal ne wali hae’ (Stop the business of writing letters, my address is going to change)". Hailing from a humble Dalit family and also associated with the Sangh fountainhead RSS, Mr Kovind used to be sensitive about his image and unlike many of his compatriots from the state maintained a low-profile approach to politics. Among anecdotes now being shared by those who have interacted with him, Mr Kovind was perhaps among the first BJP leaders who had dreamt about a "new (Nayi) Uttar Pradesh and a BJP Chief Minister" at the helm. But he was not the supposed insider source to many journalists in Delhi even as he has had a career of 12 years as a Member of Parliament. His optimism had come at a time in late 1990s and the decade there after when the Samajwadi Party and BSP parties virtually controlled the electoral politics of Uttar Pradesh and the BJP was a clear third in terms of numbers in the state assembly. Born on October 1, 1945 at Paraunkh village under rural Kanpur, he has been a Supreme Court advocate and has held key posts like President of the BJP Dalit Morcha and President of the All-India Koli Samaj. BJP's decision is largely seen as being guided by the move of the party chief Amit Shah as Mr Kovind is said to have developed close rapport with Mr Shah when the BJP chief was General Secretary In-charge of BJP Uttar Pradesh unit in the run up to the 2014 Parliamentary polls. The BJP's decision to name Mr Kovind could force JD(U) to back the NDA candidate as Mr Kovind since taking over as the Governor of Bihar in August 2015 is said to have established a good working relation with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The fact that he hails from UP and is a Dalit could even force BSP extend support to the NDA nominee even as numberwise BSP does not have much strength in Parliament or in the UP assembly. Known as a crusader for the rights weaker Sections of the society especially Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, he also has been a pioneer in spreading education. During his parliamentary tenure of 12 years, he emphasized on the development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas by helping in construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand under MP Local Area Development Fund. Even as a lawyer, his associates recall Mr Kovind for taking a leading role in providing free legal aid to the weaker sections of society, specially SC/ST women. Married to Savita Kovind on May 30, 1974, he has a son Prashant Kumar.

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