Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has only good words for the governor of his state, Ram Nath Kovind. On Monday, soon after Kovind was selected by the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) to be its presidential candidate, Kumar said he had done “exemplary work” in Bihar.
The 71-year-old Dalit leader
from Uttar Pradesh was appointed Bihar governor in 2015. His official profile describes him as a crusader for the “rights and causes of the weaker sections of society, especially Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/OBC/minority...” Kovind is most likely to be elected President without much of a fight. The BJP-led National
Democratic Alliance has nearly 50 per cent of the electoral college. If elected, he would be the second Dalit occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, after K R Narayanan, who was President from 1997 to 2002.
A loyal soldier of BJP, Kovind has never disagreed with the party leadership. It isn’t clear when he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but party sources said he had been closely associated with affiliated organisations, particularly those working among Dalits.
Kovind joined the BJP in 1991 and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994. He served two terms in the Upper House — from 1994 to 2000 and from 2000 to 2006.
He was inducted in the BJP national
executive in 2006. Kovind was also the party spokesperson and headed the party’s Dalit cell.
He practised for long years in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.
His beginnings, however, were humble. He was born at Paraunkh village in district Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh, on October 1, 1945. His parents were farmers. Kovind earned his Bachelor of Commerce and law degrees from Kanpur’s BNSD Intercollege and DAV College.
According to BJP sources, Kovind also cleared the civil services exam but decided to pursue legal practice and social work. He has been a central government advocate as well and also served on the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management.