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NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has proposed the name of senior party leader and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as its candidate for the upcoming Presidential election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the party's parliamentary board meeting held to choose the candidate.
1.Seventy-year-old Kovind is a Dalit leader from Kanpur, a choice that is going to help the BJP immensely in the next Lok Sabha elections as it has come to depend on Dalit votes in the Hindi heartland. He was president of the BJP Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002. He has also been President of the All India Koli Samaj as well as the SC/ST representative at IIM-Calcutta.
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2. Kovind was elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006. He is an advocate by profession and practises in the Supreme Court. He represented India in the United Nations in New York and addressed United Nations General Assembly in October 2002.
3. After graduating in law from a Kanpur college, Kovind had gone to Delhi to prepare for the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) entrance test. He failed to pass it twice but made it in his third attempt. He, however, did not join as he was selected for the allied services and started practising the law.
4. Kovind donated his ancestral house in his native village in Kanpur as baraatghar or community house to the village.
5. In 1977, before he joined the BJP, Kovind worked as the private secretary of then prime minister Morarji Desai.
6. Kovind's Dalit credentials are greatly valued by the party. In the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections, Rajnath Singh had taken help of Kovind during his campaign in the Dalit areas. In Uttar Pradesh, he has long been seen as the BJP's potential counter to Mayawati.
7. Kovind's appointment as Bihar Governor was seen as an attempt by the BJP to sway the Dalit votes in the next assembly elections.
8. His appointment ran into a controversy when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar complained that he was not informed about Kovind's appointment in advance and it was against the constitutional norms.
9. As Bihar Governor, Kovind had asked Tej Pratap Yadav, the elder son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, during his swearing-in as a minister in 2015, to repeat the oath of office. Kovind told Tej Pratap he had mispronounced the Hindi word 'apekshit' (expected) as 'upekshit' (neglected).
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