Ram Nath Kovind: The Dalit Leader Who Became India's First Citizen

President Ram Nath Kovind: President Kovind was born in a Dalit family on October 1, 1945, in Paraunkh, Derapur, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. His father Maiku Lal was a farmer and his mother Kalawati a housewife.

By Aalok Sensharma
Mon, 25 Jul 2022 11:09 AM IST
Minute Read
Ram Nath Kovind: The Dalit Leader Who Became India's First Citizen
President Ram Nath Kovind. (Photo: ANI)

Ram Nath Kovind's term as the first citizen of India ended with Droupadi Murmu taking oath as the 15th President of India. Kovind, who hails from a Dalit background, carried vast public, social, and political experience to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which helped him in discharging his duty as the First Citizen of India.

President Kovind was born in a Dalit family on October 1, 1945, in Paraunkh, Derapur, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. His father Maiku Lal was a farmer and his mother Kalawati a housewife.

He was married to Savita on May 30, 1974, and has a son Prashant Kumar and a daughter Swati. He had a humble beginning as a son of a middle-class family and knew the importance of education. He, hence, armed himself with a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce and an L.L.B. from Kanpur University.

After completing his education, President Kovind came to Delhi and started preparing for the civil services examination. He passed this exam on his third attempt, but he did not join as he was selected for an allied service instead of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and thus, started practising law. As an advocate, President Kovind was very successful.

President Kovind formally joined the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1991 and was one of the first Dalit leaders to join the saffron party. Just after he joined the BJP, the party fielded him from Ghatampur in UP, but he lost. The BJP again gave him a ticket from the Bhognipur assembly constituency in UP in 2007, but he lost again.

He, however, twice (1994-2000 and 2000-2006) represented Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha. He was also the BJP Dalit Morcha president between 1998 and 2002. As a Rajya Sabha member, he used his M.P. L.A.D. funds to develop basic infrastructure for education in rural areas by helping in the construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

He also served as the national spokesperson of the BJP. Since President Kovind remained far from the spotlight, many leaders in Bihar didn't know much about him when he was appointed Bihar Governor on August 8, 2015. When other BJP-appointed Governors seemed to be clashing with the Opposition-led State Government, Kovind managed to get along with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

As the Governor of Bihar, President Kovind constituted a judicial commission to investigate irregularities in the promotion of undeserving teachers, mismanagement of funds and appointment of undeserving candidates in universities, for which he received a lot of praise and accolades from all fronts.

President Kovind was also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes. Apart from this, he was also a member of various Parliamentary Committees on Home Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Social Justice and Empowerment, on Law and Justice. He also served as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee.

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