Newly-Elected Indian President Comes from the Lowest Caste

By M. Grace, July 21, 2017 20:07 PM

Ram Nath Kovind(Wikimedia Commons)

A relatively not popular political member and operator of India's lowest Dalit caste has been elected as the newest and the 14th president of the country.

Ram Nath Kovind won an overwhelming majority and beaten the opposition Congress party candidate, Meira Kumar for the position in the recent elections. Kovind secured 2,930 votes in a secret nationwide ballot while Kumar only garnered 1, 844 votes.

The election of the 71-year-old Dalit member is reportedly viewed by people as a strategy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to widen the support from among 200 million-strong Dalit community in India.

Dalits are often referred to as untouchables and they occupy the lowest run on the caste system of India. The Dalits are traditionally viewed as the "impure" ones and they continue to deal with exclusion and persecution from the rest of the country.

Kovind is reportedly the second Dalit to become the president of India after K.R. Narayanan, who was in office from 1997 to 2002.

Analysts said that Kovind's election will help increase the power of Modi's grip onto power.

"Modi would not like anyone in Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's House) who can question him, that's why Kovind was picked," said Satish Misra, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation cited by CNN.

"There's a disillusionment among the Dalits," Satish Misra said. "That's why it's necessary for the ruling party to send a signal that we are with you."

"Until now, Dalits never voted for the BJP. But in 2014, some percentage of the votes went to the BJP," Misra added. "The fact remains that Dalits constitute over 20% of the Indian population and they're a vote bank."

However, despite being elected as the president of India, Ram Nath Kovind will still need the approval of the prime minister and the council of ministers in decision making before he can fully assume his position as president.

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