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Kovind for President: Modi's One More Step for UP's Return to Centre-Stage?

VVP Sharma @vvemuri

Updated: June 23, 2017, 7:31 PM IST
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Kovind for President: Modi's One More Step for UP's Return to Centre-Stage?
BJP's presidential pick Ram Nath Kovind. (File photo)
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is the BJP's candidate for the next President of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's choice. Obviously.
Kovind's name ticks lots of criteria:

Personally he cannot but be acceptable to non-BJP parties because:
- He is a Dalit
- He is non-controversial
- He is from the Hindi heartland
- He has administrative experience (as Governor)
- He understands jurisprudence (as lawyer)

Politically, he cannot but be acceptable to non-BJP parties because:
- He is not known for his links with the RSS
- He has no known political enemies
- He is not just a Dalit face; he is a strong Dalit leader
- He understands coalition politics (he was the private secretary of Morarji Desai, who became the first coalition PM in India)
- He was close to socialists and centrist Congressmen through his association with Desai
- He was close to Atal Behari Vajpayee and in a sense, has links to the former PM's "camp", so to say.
- He firmly believes in BJP ideology and philosophy, but is not an extremist.
- He is conservative by nature, but not a bigot or a zealot.

For the BJP’s long-term political planning, too, Kovind's candidature is a plus point. Why?

- By choosing Kovind, Prime Minister Modi, intentionally or otherwise, takes one more step in giving back to Uttar Pradesh its lost pre-eminence.
- If Kovind is elected President, he would be the first person from Uttar Pradesh to become the country’s first citizen.
- The Prime Minister of India comes from UP (his constituency is Varanasi).
- The home minister of India comes from UP.
- The Union council of ministers has the maximum representation from UP.
- UP endorses the PM (and BJP) the maximum in the 2014 general elections.
- The state reaffirms its support to the PM in the 2017 assembly elections.
- Of all the BJP-ruled states, Modi experiments with literal "saffron" governance – by appointing a sanyasi as CM.
- Modi with the help of fine-tuned economic packages, boosts developmental and infrastructural packages in UP.
- BJP president Amit Shah finds legitimacy in his job with the success in the 2017 elections.

In June, 2016 -- exactly a year ago -- Modi had gone to Allahabad to attend a "parivartan rally". Al Union ministers from UP were seated on the dais. Pointing at them, he told the rally: "Manch dekhkar lagta hoga ki kendra sarkar me UP ka kitna dabdaba hai" (...shows the influence of UP on the Union government). Since his election from Varanasi, Modi has never lost an opportunity to repeat that he is a "UP wala".

Other priorities of the BJP under Modi – popularizing Hindi, cultivating Sanskrit, protecting the cow, cleaning the Ganga, re-writing largely north Indian history, to name a few – all of them point to a rehabilitation of Uttar Pradesh, once the political den of the Congress, now the new bastion of the BJP.
First Published: June 19, 2017, 4:47 PM IST

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