The Choice of Kovind
There is a reason why the Prime Minister and Amit Shah zeroed in on Ram Nath Kovind as the next President of India. Shah’s rapport with Kovind goes back to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when Shah was in charge of Uttar Pradesh. At the time, he interacted a lot with Kovind and was also impressed with his hold on the Dalit community. In fact, sources say, he was also the Modi-Shah duo’s first choice as UP Chief Minister, but fearing a backlash from the non Dalit MLAs, they decided against it. But Kovind got a bigger reward, for it’s now clear that he is headed straight to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Scindia or Nath?
The Congress is still to decide whom to send to Madhya Pradesh as the Pradesh Congress Committee chief: would it be Kamal Nath or Jyotiraditya Scindia? It seems that the first is Sonia Gandhi’s choice, while the latter is preferred by Rahul Gandhi. Both were visible during the Mandsaur farmers’ agitation, although, while Nath was first on the ground, Scindia has shown sustaining power by camping there. Now the final call rests with the famous Congress high command. But Congressmen are clear about one thing, both mother and son need to take a decision fast, because Shivraj Singh Chouhan is currently on a weak wicket and this would be a good time for the new Congress chief to make a debut. Are Rahul and Sonia Gandhi listening?
Meira Kumar vs Shinde
The Opposition had been toying with the idea of Meira Kumar as its Presidential candidate, but made the mistake of waiting for the BJP to show its hand. Now that the PM and Amit Shah have played the Dalit card, the choice of Meira Kumar seems like a Me-Too candidate, instead of being seen on its own merit. In fact, initially, the Congress was also considering Sushilkumar Shinde as he is a Dalit from Maharashtra and in projecting him, they could have tried to wean the Shiv Sena away from the BJP. The Sena had made it clear it would go with the NDA before the UPA announced its name. So, finally, the choice was, should the UPA announce a Dalit from Maharashtra and put Uddhav Thackeray in the awkward spot of voting against someone from his state? Or should they announce a Dalit from Bihar and put Nitish Kumar in the same awkward spot of voting against someone from his own state? The final decision it seems is to embarrass Nitish and also expose his drift back to the BJP.