Man from lowest caste on course for Indian presidency
INDIA is expected to elect a new president from its Dalit community, the second time it will have a head of state from the country’s lowest and poorest caste.
Nearly 5,000 Indian MPS and provincial legislators from across the country voted yesterday to elect the new president for a five-year term.
The two-way contest is likely to be won by Ram Nath Kovind, a 71-year-old low caste Dalit lawyer and former state governor, who is backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
His election is being seen as a way for Mr Modi to gain political capital among the Dalit community, who number around 200 million in the nation of 1.3 billion, and are relegated to the margins of society.
Mr Kovind is being challenged by Meira Kumar, a former diplomat and India’s first woman speaker until 2014, who is also a member of the caste once known as “untouchables”.
But she lacks support in the 4,896-strong electoral college in the election, the outcome of which will be announced on Thursday.