This was the sentiment across newsrooms and political circles when Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind was announced as NDA’s presidential candidate. The unexpected announcement by BJP chief Amit Shah caught almost everyone by surprise, with a rush to find out more about Kovind’s politics and personality.
So, The Quint compiled Kovind’s past speeches to give you a glimpse into the man who is poised to become the 14th President of India.
Quoted as Saying 'Islam and Christianity Are Alien to Nation'
In 2010, Ram Nath Kovind was appointed the BJP national spokesperson during Nitin Gadkari’s tenure as BJP chief. In a press conference in 2010, he is quoted in the Hindustan Times as saying that ‘Islam and Christianity are alien’ to the nation and so even if their economic condition calls for it, they should not be given quota in government jobs, legislation and education.
Kovind was clarifying the BJP’s stand against the Ranganath Mishra Commission report which recommends 15 percent quota in government jobs for religious and linguistic minorities. Following reports that Kovind was misquoted, a BOOM Live report reached out to Sarwar Kashani from Indo Asian News Service (IANS) reported on Kovind in 2010. He has said that he stands by his report and Kovind used the word ‘nation’.
Interestingly, Kovind served as a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes and the Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment among others.
On Babasaheb Ambedkar
If elected, Ram Nath Kovind will be the second Dalit president in India. In fact, his announcement is being hailed as a masterstroke by the NDA – a symbolic move with political benefits.
In this clip published in April 2017, Kovind is talking about Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s stance on the Hindu Code Bill. Interestingly, Kovind also served as a member of the Board of Management of Dr BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow.
‘Demonetisation Was a Positive Effort’
Speaking at an annual function of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce in December 2016, the governor of Bihar praised demonetisation as ‘a positive effort’ and said it will ‘free the society of black money and corruption’. According to a report in The Financial Express, he said,
As a result of demonetisation, weaker sections of society would get relief while the financial and trade activities would get a boost through greater transparency the measure would bring in
A Long Stint in Rajya Sabha
Ram Nath Kovind was a Rajya Sabha member from 1994 to 2000 and then, from 2000 to 2006. He was elected from Uttar Pradesh and during that period reportedly emphasised the importance of infrastructure and rural development.
In this 2000 speech in the Rajya Sabha, Kovind speaks on the Companies Amendment Bill, 2000 as a BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh.
A Supporter of Prohibition
As Governor of Bihar, Kovind has come out as a supporter of Nitish’s policy of prohibition. On the Republic Day function in 2017, Kovind praised the state government for implementing total prohibition in the state. According to a report in The Indian Express, he said,
Bihar has laid a strong foundation stone for social change by implementing complete prohibition in the state. With the cooperation of all, prohibition has turned into a campaign for social change. Socio-economic conditions of people have improved considerably since enforcement of prohibition on 5 April last year. Decline in domestic violence, disputes in family and other crimes have been noticed
On Law and Higher Education in Bihar
‘Rule of law’ and the state of higher education are at the centre of Bihar politics and as a Bihar governor, Kovind has strong opinions on the same.
In January 2017, he hailed the Nitish Kumar government for “ensuring good governance in Bihar.” The Times of India quoted him as saying,
The government with a focus on justice and development is moving in the right direction. Concerted efforts are being made to ensure good governance in the state. Bihar is the country’s first state to provide a legal tool to people for timely disposal of their grievances
On the other hand, Kovind came down hard at the state of higher education in India, saying that “higher education in Bihar was on the verge of collapse,” according to a report in the Hindustan Times. It’s a significant stand, especially since as a Governor, Kovind is the chancellor of universities in Bihar.
While political negotiations are underway to form a consensus on Ram Nath Kovind as a presidential candidate, Kovind’s past record doesn’t reveal his political stance neither unearths a sharp-tongued orator.
So, what kind of a president will Ram Nath Kovind be? For now, we will just have to wait and see.
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