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What India really wants to know: Ram Nath Kovind's caste

With highest Google search volume, query highlights India's obsession with caste

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

BJP leaders receive Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind with bouquets upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
BJP leaders receive Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind with bouquets upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

Who is That might have been the most obvious question after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced Kovind would be the Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) nominee for the July 17 Presidential poll. The former Bihar governor (his resignation was accepted by the President earlier today) is not a well-known figure in Indian politics and it was quite natural for people to search about him on Google.

In no time, people came to know that he had been a two-time MP in the Rajya Sabha, was born in Kanpur and was a lawyer who practised at Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, and was appointed Bihar Governor by the Narendra Modi government. 

More than his career, however, it was his caste that seemed to interest internet users in India, revealed Google search trends. Since Kovind is not a very well-known public figure, there is also a lot of curiousity about his candidature. Political analysts suggest that has an upper hand when it comes to this election with numbers stacked in its favour. This makes Kovind's election a foregone conclusion. This makes people even more curious about a candidate who is likely to be their next President.

The search only confirms what is often said, that, caste is the most important factor in Indian politics. 

Who is Ram Nath Kovind

Born in a Dalit family in rural Kanpur, Kovind studied in Kanpur and started practicing as an advocate after completing his education. He later also served Prime Minister Morarji Desai as a personal assistant and joined the in 1991. He has been the head of BJP's Dalit Morcha in the past as well.

Political commentators have also argued that Modi and Shah have handpicked Kovind, who is a Dalit, to strengthen their prospects amongst Dalit voters for 2019 polls. If elected, he will be the second President from the state of Uttar Pradesh (after Zakir Husain, 3rd President of India). Dalit vote in Uttar Pradesh is said to be crucial for to repeat its performance in the 2014 polls in the state.

If elected, will be the first Dalit President of India?

No, the first Dalit President was Kocheril Raman Narayanan who was the tenth President of India, from July, 1997 to July, 2002. Narayanan was born in Kerala in a Dalit Hindu family and was a former officer in the Indian Foreign Service who later joined politics. He won three consecutive Lok Sabha polls from Kerala and rose to be the Vice President of India in the year 1992.

Caste obsession

The search for Ram Nath Kovind's caste is not the first time Google search has revealed how caste obsessed Indian society is. A similar situation was witnessed earlier when AIADMK leader K. Sasikala's name was being talked about as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. This was also scene when shuttler PV Sindhu won the silver medal for India at the Rio Olympics.

First Published: Tue, June 20 2017. 17:14 IST