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Ram Nath Kovind’s Nomination Serves Multiple Sangh Objectives

The NDA’s Presidential Choice

The nomination of Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for the presidential election serves multiple objectives of the Sangh Parivar. It highlights the division between Ambedkarite and other Dalit groups, serves the NDA’s outreach to Other Backward Classes, and helps paper over the recent Dalit-led assertions against the government over caste-based atrocities.

Nitish Kumar has said that Ram Nath Kovind is an honourable man. Knowing that the Chief Minister of Bihar—whatever else he may or may not be—is himself an honourable man, we take his characterisation of Kovind at his word.

The point, however, is that when the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the redoubtable Amit Shah, made the public declaration of Kovind’s name as the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s choice for President of India, rather than emphasise Kovind’s honourable nature, Shah laid stress on two other aspects, namely, Kovind’s indigent background and, most of all, the fact that Kovind is a Dalit. Indeed, as many commentators have since remarked, Shah iterated this aspect of Kovind’s persona more than a few times. Contrary to the professed indifference of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to facts of caste, Shah does seem to have a healthy interest in the social formations of India’s Hindus. We recall how he had, some weeks ago, characterised Gandhi as a chatur baniya.

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Updated On : 7th Jul, 2017

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