Union ministers and senior BJP leaders today hailed Ram Nath Kovind’s election as the next President, saying he is a humble man who has an understanding of constitutional values that are essential for upholding the democratic ethos of the country. A string of visitors, from Cabinet ministers to party leaders and commoners, today made a beeline for 10, Akbar Road bungalow, the temporary residence of Kovind, to felicitate him on his victory.
“I am extremely happy. The whole country is happy. He understands the constitution and he understands the country. He is simple and humble, and understands the constitutional values that are essential for upholding the democratic values,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Over reports of cross-voting by opposition lawmakers in favour of Kovind in several states, he said, “You cannot have an alliance of inconvenience”. Ahead of the felicitation ceremony hosted on the lawns of the bungalow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and senior party leader Ananth Kumar called on Kovind and presented him bouquets and ‘aangvastra’.
Besides, Prasad and Kumar, the event was attended by Union ministers J P Nadda, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Ram Vilas Paswan and Harsh Vardhan, and former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. “This is a big message to the people of India. The PM and the Pesident, both are from the party, and both from humble backgrounds. I congratulate Kovindji and also the outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee, who had a good term in office.
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“Kovind as the President will become the voice of Dalits,” Paswan said. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, ” There is a sense of elation. A nice person and a simple man is now the President of this country.” Health Minister J P Nadda described him as “a man of humble background and simplicity, clean image, and having an understanding of the constitutional values, that will hold him in good stead, as he assumes the office that upholds the democratic values”.
NDA candidate Kovind defeated the joint opposition’s nominee Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, garnering more than 65 per cent of the votes in the electoral college. Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani also congratulated Kovind and said his long experience in public life will enrich the president’s office.
“Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji’s rich experience in public life will enrich the office of President of India,” Irani said in a tweet. M Venkaiah Naidu, who resigned as I&B and Housing and Urban Affairs Minister after he was named the NDA’s vice presidential candidate, said Kovind’s rise to the highest office of the country from humble beginnings “speaks for the success of our democracy”.
“My long association of working with Kovindji tells me that he will prove to be an ideal president,” he added.
Vardhan said the fact that over 65 per cent of legislators voted for Kovind is testimony to the respect he commands. “This is what makes us different from dynastic parties – in 20 years two grassroots workers rise to become PM and President of the country. “Many MPs/ MLAs from even non-NDA parties voted in favour of Shri #RamNathKovind. Opposition stands breached, some will have sleepless nights,” Vardhan posted on Twitter.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said it was a “victory of the positive politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” ” While we chose a candidate to send out a message of meritocracy and empowerment of the underprivileged, Congress made a tactical blunder by not extending support to Kovind,” he said. Rao said the opposition parties made Kumar a “scapegoat” and “insulted her” by fielding her despite knowing the numbers were not in her favour.
The Congress stood for “fake” slogans of Dalit empowerment as it did not field a Dalit when its candidate won the presidential elections in 2007 and 2012, he said. BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said Kovind’s wins sends a message of empowerment of the underprivileged. “A strong message that people of this country in the 21st century are far erudite to understand the difference between empowerment and vote-bank politics. The message to Congress is that they should stop playing that card,” she said.