Ram Nath Kovind, the candidate nominated by the NDA government, is all set to comfortably win India’s presidential election.
Early projections show that the former Governor from Bihar will defeat Meira Kumar, the candidate nominated by the opposition.
The first ever presidential elections in post independent India took place in 1952, when Dr Rajendra Prasad defeated his rival K. T. Shah by 507,400 votes. Many stalwarts including celebrated scientist, Dr APJ Adul Kalam, have held the country’s highest office in the decades that followed. From 2007 to 2012, Pratibha Patil became the first and only woman to serve as the Indian President. The current President, Pranab Mukherjee, took the office in 2012.
The president of India is elected by an electoral college. This constitutes of members from both Houses of the Parliament as well as elected members in the Legislative assemblies.
A low-profile leader
Ram Nath Kovind has largely been untouched by controversies that plague most career politicians. Born in Uttar Pradesh in 1945, Kovind received an LLB from Kanpur University. He took the UPSC exams three times before finally cracking it. However, he did not join the civil services as he had qualified for one of the Allied Services. He became a lawyer in the Supreme Court where he was the central government’s Chief Standing Counsel for multiple years.
Hailing from the Dalit community, he has championed the cause of the oppressed community for many years both as a lawyer and as the President of the BJP Dalit Morcha. In 1994, he became a Rajya Sabha MP in Uttar Pradesh and served in Parliamentary Committee for Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes.
On August 2015, he was appointed the Governor of Bihar.
A quiet and unassuming man, he is known to shy away from the media and the spotlight.
The NDA is confident that Kovind will get 70% of the votes. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, upon casting his vote commended the dignified decorum observed during the process. He said, “The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate.”
The votes were cast on July 17, between 10am and 5pm. They will be collected and stored in Room 62 in the Parliament in Delhi. The results will be announced on July 20th and the country’s new President will be sworn in on July 25th.
The government’s top contender for the office of President is Venkaiah Naidu. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, he is the Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information and Broadcasting.
Our assessment is that it was a political masterstroke by the ruling NDA government by choosing a progressive Dalit leader known for championing the cause of the disadvantaged. It also created the “first move” advantage by naming its Presidential candidate. By nominating someone who is non-controversial and erudite, it provided little leeway to propose a winnable alternative.