Ram Nath Kovind is India’s 14th President; clean sweep with 65.65 pc votes

NEW DELHI, JUL 20: National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday defeated United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rival Meira Kumar to become the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The NDA had caught everyone by surprise when it nominated the little-known Dalit activist for the country’s top constitutional job in June 2017. However, his victory in the Presidential Elections, which took place on July 17, was expected, given the NDA’s numbers in Parliament and assemblies.
With his election, the 71-year-old former lawyer has become the second Dalit to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan after KR Narayanan.
The BJP had hoped for consensus on Kovind’s name while announcing his candidature. However, the Opposition pitted another Dalit and `Bihar ki beti` against Kovind.
Kovind, a former two-time Rajya Sabha MP, is known more as a Dalit champion than a Hindutva ideologue.
Born on October 01, 1945 at Kanpur Dehat in Uttar Pradesh, Kovind had contested and lost the Lok Sabha election in 1991 from Ghattampur in Uttar Pradesh and the 2007 Assembly Election from Bhognipur.
The Dalit leader is known for his organisational skills and is a loyal member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The former head of the BJP’s Dalit Morcha is married and has a son and a daughter. It was a measure of his public persona that though his wife Savita was by his side during the weeks of campaigning, his children were not seen much or written about.
Largely seen as an affable man, he had a quiet inning as the governor of Bihar, a post that he took up in August 2015, months before Assembly Elections were held in the state.
Kovind, a commerce graduate who also studied law at Kanpur University, practised in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. He was also the Central government’s standing counsel in the apex court from 1980-93.
His official profile on the Bihar governor’s website described him as a crusader for “rights and cause of weaker sections of society specially Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/OBC/ minority…” from his student days.
Kovind, who headed Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002, also led the All-India Koli Samaj.
Elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh, he served two consecutive terms till March 2006.
He joined a stir by SC/ST employees in 1997 when Dalits and others protested against orders issued by the Central Government, which were rescinded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the NDA came to power.
As an advocate, Kovind took the lead in providing free legal aid to weaker sections, especially the SC/ST women, and poor and needy girls under the aegis of the Free Legal Aid Society in Delhi.
Known for his work in the field of education, he served as a member of the board of management of the Dr BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow, and was a member of the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
India’s 14th president will take oath on July 25, when he will take over from veteran politician Pranab Mukherjee.