Dalit versus Dalit

It is Dalit versus Dalit contest for the office of the President of India.
On 19/6/2017 BJP announced Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate. On 22/6/2017 Congress announced Meira Kumar as its presidential candidate.
Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit in Uttar Pradesh and an OBC in Gujarat. His status in other states is not known. He is presented as Dalit. When his name was announced the question was “Who is Ram Nath Kovind?” Most people had not heard of him.
Nitish Kumar is a slippery customer. He is an opportunist, an unprincipled and unscrupulous politician. He wanted opposition parties to put up a joint candidate. He met Sonia Gandhi on 20/4/2017. Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of opposition leaders on 26/5/2017. Nitish Kumar did not attend that. Sharad Yadav represented. Next day Nitish Kumar met Narendra Modi at a lunch hosted in honour of visiting Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth. Something happened between 20/4/2017 and 26/5/2017. May be Nitish Kumar suggested Kovind’s name and Modi agreed. On 21/6/2017 Nitish Kumar called a JD (U) meeting and it was decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. It was a setback for Congress and allies.
Congress and allies did not declare their candidate. They said they were in favour consensus and it is for the government to approach them. If the BJP candidate is suitable they will not oppose. A BJP committee met opposition leaders but did not mention any name.
Once Kovind’s name was announced Mayawati said it was difficult for her to oppose him unless a Dalit candidate opposes him. Ram Vilas Paswan said anyone who opposed Kovind is anti-Dalit. Gopalkrishna Gandhi was out as a candidate. The choice was for a Dalit. Four names were in circulation. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Meira Kumar, Prakash Ambedkar and Sushil Kumar Shinde were discussed. She is a retired IFS officer, former minister, and was Lok Sabha Speaker. As Speaker, she is well-known for saying “Please sit down. Please sit down. Baith jayiye. Baith jayiye.” She is from Bihar and daughter of Jagjivan Ram. Lalu Prasad Yadav appealed to Nitish Kumar to reconsider his decision to vote for Ram Nath Kovind and said it will be a historic blunder. Mamata Banerjee who was opposed to Meira Kumar agreed to support her.
Shiv Sena was in favour of Mohan Bhagwat and M. S. Swaminathan. On 19/6/2017 Uddhav Thackeray lashed out against choice of Ram Nath Kovind. Next day Shiv Sena decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. In 2007 and 2012 Shiv Sena had not supported BJP’s candidates. It supported Congress candidates. Congress was in power at the time. Now BJP is in power. Not supporting BJP candidate can be costly.
It is good there is a contest for the office of President. It would have been better if the contest had more than two candidates. Most parties do not have 100 electors as members and not possible for them to field a candidate.
BJP has all NDA allies on its side. AIADMK, BJD, JD (U), TRS and YSR Congress are on BJP’s side. BSP, DMK, Left Front, NC, NCP, RJD, RLD, SP and TMC support Congress. Vote strength of Ram Nath Kovind is around 62.8% and of Meira Kumar is around 34.6%.
On 23/6/2017 Ram Nath Kovind filed his nomination papers. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Vijay Goel, Manohar Lal Khattar, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Yogi Adityanath, E. K. Palaniswami, K. Chandrasekhara Rao, and some others were present.

Updated: June 24, 2017 — 7:42 am

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