Presidential Election 2017: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has apparently made a habit of surprising political pundits. Presidential Election 2017 in no exception as the BJP has announced a surprise candidate for the crucial poll. Whether PM Modi deliberately tries to outsmart the political pundits or the latter fail to read his mind is a subject nobody can discuss with authority. May be Modi knows, what Modi does.
Here are five such instances in the last two-three years when PM Modi almost stunned the political pundits with his choice of candidates for top Constitutional posts:
Ram Nath Kovind as NDA Presidential candidate
Several names were doing the rounds for reportedly being considered as the BJP-led NDA’s Presidential candidates. Some of the names doing the rounds in scores of media reports were External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Metro Man E Sreedharan etc. However, the name of Dalit leader and Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind came as a surprise. Born in Kanpur Dehat, Kovind is also a successful lawyer, former Rajya Sabha member and known for his activism to save Dalit interests.
Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
Who thought that firebrand Hindutva leader Yogi Adityanath would be PM Modi’s pick for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s post? After scoring a historic mandate in Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2017, it was expected the PM would go for someone like Rajnath Singh or Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha. UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya and then Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma were also probable CM candidates. Both are now deputy CMs in the state.
Manohar Lal Khattar as Haryana CM
BJP surprised the pundits by selecting a Punjabi and a Brahmin as the CM of Haryana in 2014. One commentator even hailed it as the “biggest moment of personal glory for Narendra Modi as a campaigner, leader and as Prime Minister.” Khattar, who comes from RSS background, is the first-time MLA to lead Haryana.
Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra CM
There is no dearth of high-profile BJP leaders from Maharashtra. However, when the party formed a coalition government along with Shiv Sena, PM Modi and Amit Shah surprised all by picking low-profile Brahmin leader from the RSS stable, Devendra Fadnavis, to lead the government. Little was known about Fadnavis outside Maharashtra before he became the CM of the state.
Trivendra Singh Rawat as Uttarakhand CM
After getting historic mandate in Uttarakhand Assembly elections 2017, several reports suggested that the party was considering Prakash Pant for the Uttarakhand CM job. However, Modi-Shah picked Rawat, another leader with a RSS background.
Interestingly, among all these surprise announcements, only Yogi Adityanath didn’t have any formal RSS affiliation. But he had his own army of Hindutva followers known as Hindu Yuva Wahini and a track record of being a hardline Hindutva leader.