The 25th of July, 2017 shall end the tenure of the current President of India Honorable Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The Rashtrapati Bhawan is now ready to welcome its new incumbent. Both, the ruling BJP- led NDA and, the opposition Congress- led UPA have filed their candidates.
This presidential race is quite interesting. No, not just for who wins it. It is the labels associated! Both the candidates, Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar, are Dalits. So, the next President of India is definitely a Dalit. Yes! A Dalit first, everything else later! Because, just why not?

Let’s have a look at their profiles.
Dalit President
Picture Courtesy: Times of India
  • Ram Nath Kovind, 71, is a lawyer by profession. He practiced both in the High Court and the Supreme Court. He is a two time Rajya Sabha MP as well as the former chief of BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha.
  • Meira Kumar, the UPA candidate, 72, is a lawyer too. She’s a former IFS officer. A five time MP for the Congress, she also was the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker.

Both the front runners have excellent academic backgrounds, and significant political merits. Despite all these factors, Dalit identity is what takes the limelight .

The strategic notion of overshadowing their academic or political backgrounds by this identity is a big question mark on the nature of selection. Therefore, if it just wasn’t a Dalit appeasement, why don’t they sometimes choose a Dalit for all of their high end political posts (anonymously reserved for the upper castes)? Are there no able Dalit political faces other than Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar?

UPA, Why a Dalit?

BSP Supremo Mayawati made it clear that if the UPA candidate is not a Dalit, she will support Kovind. Because how can you oppose a dalit? Even if you criticize the party everyday, this time, it’s a Dalit, no? It is your vote bank.

Hence, it is transparent enough that UPA too chose Meira Kumar for political gains like the NDA. Thus, the bigger question here is, if the current political scenarios were not as they are, would Congress led UPA file Meira Kumar?

BJP’s selection is shrewd too!

Even the BJP led NDA’s selection seems shrewd. After dodging the possibility of an OBC Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh, launching Ram Nath Kovind was a clever step. The BJP stronghold is evident in their recent series of victories. The electoral gains too doesn’t seem compromised hitherto.

The recent controversies that includes farmers agitations, mob lynchings, beef rages etc. should not affect BJP’s vote bank so much. The dormant Indian population doesn’t care about it. Some vote for the Modi factor, some others for the saffron factor. Some for the “Congress hatao, desh bachao” factor. Only few are really voting them for progress or development. In such case, BJP stands tall even without a Dalit candidate.

The selection of Ram Nath Kovind doesn’t only gives an edge over other’s Dalit vote bank politics. It also gives them a “docile man” for the highest office of the Indian Democracy.

Also read: Racism: Why the debate will never end?

Dalit President” is important?

The Indian caste hegemony never ceases to influence the political scenarios. The top leadership is seldom low castes. Are there no “more” famous dalits in India to lead, is left to wonder.

The President, this time, isn’t an Indian first. He isn’t considered a normal human being because, he/she will be a Dalit. The importance, this “being dalit” identity is given, proves. Moreover, it’s a Dalit versus Dalit race where neither wins. The political gainers on either sides will be the “obvious ones”.

The recent dalit issues in India are a mirror to the existing casteist mentality. The problems faced by Dalits in India are real. Only if a Dalit President could help.

Will a Dalit President help clean the sick casteists? BJP’s nomination of a dalit candidate does not change anything. It doesn’t alter the fact that BJP leader’s foul silence is the reason “Hindutva terror” is on rise. It does not change that the minorities, including Muslims and dalits are targeted everyday somewhere in this country over petty issues.

60 years of Congress government couldn’t end Casteism. BJP’s rule is nothing but giving it a rise.

Only if BJP nominating a Dalit President of India could change it!

You would like: Untouchability, India and Us

Why a Dalit President cannot be just a President?

Roping in of the term “Dalit President” in itself shows the casteist nature of the Presidential Election. In any way, this election does not helps in eradicating casteism or empowering low castes. On the contrary, it show how being a low caste born is rendered different. Never good atleast.

Noticed the “but” ? Yes, this is what it is. The irony here is that even Yoga cannot cure the casteist bigotry.

India will get the 14th President of India on the 25th of July. Let us but make it clear. Congratulations India. You are only getting the second “Dalit” President on the 25th of July, 2017. Because, that’s all they are, aren’t they?

“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility” -Rohith Vemula (in his suicide letter)


Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. Author does not intend to demean any person, party or position.
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