After the BJP announced Ram Nath Kovind’s name as NDA’s pick for president, discussions about his politics one again came to the fore. Despite being a member of Dalit community, Kovind had opposed reservation for minorities and had described Islam and Christianity as ‘alien to the country’. He, in 2010, had also argued that Dalit Christians and Muslims get a better education in convent schools.
Kovind’s comment was followed the Ranganath Misra Commission recommendation in 2009, which advocated recommended 10 percent reservation for Muslims and five percent for other minorities in government jobs and favoured Scheduled Caste status for Dalits in all religions.
Addressing media in 2010, said, “No, that is not possible,” and demanded to scrap the Ranganath Misra commission report. He was the national spokesperson for the BJP then. “Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional,” he said.
“Islam and Christianity are alien” to India and, therefore, the BJP feels people from the minority groups, even if their socio-economic condition is low, should not be given the privilege of quota in jobs, legislative bodies and education, Kovind had said.
In another instance, Kovind had also appeared as a defence witness in the Bangaru Laxman corruption case. Kovind was one of two defence witnesses examined in the famous case of ‘CBI vs Bangaru Laxman’ in 2012.
“He deposed that he knows Bangaru Laxman for last 20 years. He deposed that Bangaru Laxman is a straight forward, simple and honest person, who became President of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP),” the court cited in its judgment.
Besides Kovind, Laxman’s lawyers had produced only one defence witness, an anthropologist and computer science graduate, Kartik S. Godavarthy. No one else from the BJP was prepared to testify on his behalf. Laxman, who was BJP president at the time of a sting operation conducted by Tehekla in 2001, was eventually found guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2012
In a surprise move on Monday, the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting on Monday nominated current Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for president. Kovind from Uttar Prades’s Kanpu, who is a former president of BJP’s Dalit morcha, was made the Governor of Bihar two years ago after the NDA took power in the centre in May 2014.
Kovind became a Rajya Sabha MP in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh and served for two consecutive terms for 12 years till March 2006. He has served as a member in many important Parliamentary committees, such as on welfare of scheduled castes/tribes, home affairs, petroleum and natural gas, social justice and empowerment and law and justice. He was also chairman of Rajya Sabha House Committee.
Kovind was a Central Government Advocate in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and a Central Government Standing Counsel in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became the Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court in 1978 and practised in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993. He was enrolled as an advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council of Delhi.
The opposition will be holding a meeting on 22 June to decide its candidate and chalk out its strategy.