NEW DELHI: His appointment as Bihar governor two years ago was as surprising as his
selection as the next ‘probable’ President+
. That’s probably because he was not very well known in political circles. But Ram Nath Kovind was one of the first lot of Dalit leaders to join the saffron party.
He was the central government’s advocate in the Supreme Court during the Janata Party government and finally joined BJP in 1991 after 16 years of practice. From there to the Raj Bhawan of Bihar and now a likely journey to Rashtrapati Bhawan — it has been a story of dedication and tireless work for the organisation. He even donated his ancestral house in Paraunkh village in Derapur to the RSS. Kovind was a BJP Rajya Sabha member for two consecutive terms from 1994 to 2006.
In between, he was also the
BJP Dalit Morcha president+
between 1998 and 2002. He served as the national spokesperson for the party and also on several important Parliamentary Committees. After pursuing degrees in commerce and law from Kanpur University, he started preparing for the civil services in Delhi. He cracked the examination in 1975 but didn’t join as he was selected for the allied services.
After that, he started full-time practice in Delhi high court and the Supreme Court and came in contact with political leaders. He also served as the personal assistant of Morarji Desai in 1977-78 when he was Prime Minister.
Just after he joined BJP, the party fielded him from Ghatampur in UP but he lost. His next attempt at electoral politics was in 2007, when he was fielded from the Bhognipur assembly constituency in UP. He lost again. But the party did recognise Kovind’s organisational and administrative skills. Perhaps it was because of his administrative skills that he hardly had any confrontation with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who had said he had not been consulted before Kovind’s appointment as Bihar governor.
His political journey+
was mainly centred around the rights and uplift of the weaker sections of the society. Apart from being the chief of the BJP’s SC/ST wing, Kovind had joined the SC/ST employees’ movement against the central government in 1997 to protest against some government orders.
Later, the orders were termed null and void by the passage of three amendments to the Constitution during the first NDA regime.
In Bihar, he was widely acclaimed for constituting a judicial commission to check irregularities in promotion of undeserving teachers, bungling of funds and appointment of undeserving candidates in universities.