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Prez polls: Meet Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's surprise presidential nominee

If he wins, Kovind will be only Prez other than Narayanan to have come from Dalit community

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Ram Nath Kovind
Ram Nath Kovind. Photo: Twitter

This article first appeared in Business Standard on 19/06/2017.

Springing a surprise, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah on Monday named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader from the party, the ruling Democratic Alliance’s (NDA's) nominee for the July 17

Kovind, 72, who emerged as the dark horse, is likely to file his nomination on June 23. If elected, he will be only the second Indian President coming from the Dalit community. K R Narayanan was the first.

"Ram Nath comes from a Dalit family and has struggled a lot. We hope he will be the unanimous candidate for the election,” Shah said.

Who is Ram Nath Kovind?

Kovind had a long innings in public life during which he fought for the cause of Dalits and the poor.

An advocate by profession, Kovind practised law in both High Court and the Supreme Court. He was made the Governor of Bihar in 2015, after the NDA took office at the Centre in May the previous year.

Once the head BJP's Dalit wing, Kovind had been a member of the Rajya Sabha for 12 years and part of several parliamentary panels.

Born in village Paraunkh in the Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh on October 1, 1945, Kovind earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree, followed by an LLB, from Kanpur’s BNSD Intercollege and DAV College.

He was the general secretary of the All India Koli Samaj from 1971 to 1975, and the Union government advocate in the Delhi High Court in two stints – from 1977 to 1979 and from 1982 to 1984. He had also been the general secretary of the Depressed Classes Legal Aid Bureau.

Kovind was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994 and inducted in the BJP’s executive in 1997. His second Rajya Sabha term was from 2000 to 2006.

Kovind, who has one son and a daughter, has also served on the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management.