DALIT FACE Opposition likely to name candidate but numbers are on BJP’S side
NEW DELHI: Bihar governor and Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind is the BJP’S choice for India’s next President, the party announced on Monday, in a surprise pick apparently aimed at reaching out to the country’s backward and marginalised communities.
Kovind, 71, is expected to win the July 17 presidential polls and succeed Pranab Mukherjee as India’s head of state, a largely ceremonial figure elected by parliamentarians and state legislators (see graphic).
“Ram Nath Kovind has always fought for the betterment of the Dalits and other backward castes,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah said at a press conference.
“The BJP… hopes that a person born in a poor family of low-caste Dalit community will be a consensus candidate for the president’s post,” he added.
Kovind, who arrived in Delhi in the evening, said he will seek support of all MPS and MLAS.
“I think I will have the support and blessings of every citizen of India,” he told reporters before meeting the BJP president.
Though the BJP was expected to name a Dalit, Kovind’s candidature came as a surprise because of his relative anonymity in the country’s mainstream politics.