The race for the Presidential elections, 2017, has begun. The battle lines have been drawn to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and this time we have two Dalit leaders racing towards the finishing line. The NDA Government has nominated Ram Nath Kovind, while the opposition, UPA, is backing Meira Kumar. There is only one thing confirmed about the result of this race, and that is, we will have a Dalit for the President of India.
Here are a few facts and figures of the two nominees.
Ram Nath Kovind vs Meira Kumar
Mr Kovind is 71 years old, a Dalit, born in Uttar Pradesh and has very humble beginnings, being the son of a farmer of the lower middle class.
Mrs Kumar, is 72 years old, belongs to Bihar, and though a Dalit too, has a more affluent upbringing, being the daughter of the erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister of India, Jagjivan Ram.
Mr Kovind has served as a lawyer for 16 years in both the Delhi High Court as well as the Supreme Court.
Mrs Kumar is a lawyer too by profession, and served as a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Services for a decade before she joined politics. She has been posted to embassies in Spain, Mauritius and the United Kingdom.
Mr Kovind started his political career when he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1991. Since then he has been a loyal member of the party.
Mrs Kumar quit her post with the IFS in 1984 to join Congress and fight the elections from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.
Distinctive work and Positions Held
Mr Ram Nath Kovind, during his appointment as the Rajya Sabha Member has had the honour of representing India in New York as well as addressed United Nations General Assembly in October, 2002. He has also served as the President of the BJP Dalit Morcha as well as the President of the All-India Koli Samaj. Mr Kovind was also the national spokesperson of the party. Mr. Kovind served as a member of the Board of Management of Dr. B.R Ambedkar University, Lucknow, as well as a member of the Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
The most distinctive position held by Mrs Kumar was that of the Speaker of Lok Sabha. She was the first Woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2009-2014. Apart from that she has been a member of the Parliament five times. Mrs Kumar has served as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Manmohan Singh’s Congress led Government.
Last Appointment Held
Mr Kovind was the Governor of Bihar from 2015 till 2017 when he put up his resignation after being nominated for the post of President of India by the NDA.
The last distinctive position held by Mr Kumar was that of being the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014. She had been elected unopposed.
Mr Ram Nath Kovind has been nominated by the NDA government and thus has the full-fledged support of the BJP and its allies, Shiv Sena and PDP. The JD(U) and both the factions of AIADMK have also pledged support. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, has also decided to support the BJP’s candidate.
Mrs Meira Kumar, nominated by the UPA, has the support of 17 parties including Congress, Left, NCP, RJD and DMK.
While BJP along with its allies does have well over 60 per cent of the vote, the opposition is all geared up to give the election a fight, and have reiterated that it is not a contest based on caste system. Rather as Mrs Meira Kumar quoted, this contest will be a battle of ideologies.
Who Will Be Our President
While Ram Nath Kovind at present is better placed with majority support, there is still more than a fortnight to go, and in the political world there can be a wind of change at any given point of time. The political waves can change at any time. Anybody can win. The unfolding of the political scenario and the support extended by the various parties is what is going to decide the winner of this.