Ram Nath Kovind sworn in as India’s 14th President
I grew up in a mud house, in a small village; my journey has been a long one: Kovind
New Delhi, India - Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as India’s President on Tuesday, becoming just the second leader from the oppressed Dalit community to be elected head of state.
A former lawyer and state governor, Kovind was elected to the largely ceremonial position last week with more than 65 per cent of the vote by members of India’s parliament and state as- semblies.
Kovind, accompanied by his wife, paid respects early on Tuesday at a memorial dedicated to India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi.
“I grew up in a mud house, in a small village. My journey has been a long one, and yet this journey is hardly mine alone. It is so telling of our nation and our society also,” Kovind said after taking the oath of office in parliament.
“For all its problems, it (nation) follows that basic mantra given to us in the preamble of the constitution - of ensuring justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, and I will always continue to follow this basic mantra.”
The 71 year old was nominated by the ruling rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a move analysts say would help Prime Minister Narendra Modi tighten his grip on power and gain political capital ahead of his re-election bid in 2019.
Kovind has said he will use his position to improve the lot of Dalits, a marginalised 200mn strong community once known as ‘untouchables’ and ranked among India’s poorest.
“Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique... We are so different yet so similar and united,” Kovind said.
India’s Prime Minister wields executive power, but the president can send back some parliamentary bills for reconsideration and also plays a guiding role in the process of forming governments.
India’s new President Ram Nath Kovind waves from a horse-drawn carriage during a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on Tuesday