BJP’s national president Amit Shah has announced the name of Ram Nath Kovind, 71, as NDA’s presidential nominee.
Did L K Advani (89) and Murli Manohar Joshi (83) missed the bus because of their advanced age?
The selection of Kovind also raises a key question: Has the Narendra Modi government set an age bar for its presidential candidate?
At 71, Kovind is the youngest of the lot and no longer an active politician. He has been the governor of Bihar since 2015. And, if elected, he would be 76 by the time he completes his term. His age is in sync with the Modi government’s firm retirement age policy of 75.
Out of the 13 elected presidents, seven of them were older to Kovind when they took office. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (73), Varahagiri Venkata Giri (74), R Venkataraman (76), Shankar Dyal Sharma (73), K.R. Narayanan (76), Prathibha Patil (72) and Pranab Mukherjee (76) were all elder to Kovind.
However, there are six presidents, who were younger to Kovind, when they took oath. Dr. Rajendra Prasad became country’s first president at the age of 65, Dr. Zakir Hussain was 70 and Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was 69. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, at 64, has been the youngest president. Giani Zail Singh was 66 took when he took oath and A P J Abdul Kalam was 70 to assume the most prestigious office in the country.
Soon after coming into power in 2014, Narendra Modi introduced the rule that leaders above 75 should not hold any administrative post in either Central or state governments. He has been ruthless in implementation of the age bar.
For example, former Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel stepped down last year at the age of 74. Similarly, Najma Heptulah resigned as Union minister for minority affairs last year after she turned 76.
In the light of the strict enforcement of retirement age policy by the Modi govt, questions abound the vice-presidential candidate’s age as well.
Will the candidate be picked keeping the 75 mark in mind?