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Welcome aboard President Kovind

RAM NATH KOVIND is India’s newest first citizen.  His claims to fame are many: a Dalit who lived in a hut that was gutted; an Allied Services recruit who skipped it to become a lawyer; a personal assistant to Prime Minister Desai; a long standing member of the Parivar and a man who has throughout lived under a shadow; to name a few.
When the BJP announced Kovind’s name I dived into Wiki asking myself Ram Nath Who.  When I found that he was Bihar’s Governor, the once avid quizzer in me felt ashamed. One hopes that the new incumbent will rise above the colours of politics, like Pranab-da and like Kalam, to be a president of repute. This is all the more important, as strong governments do not like a strong head of the state.
Rajendra Prasad had a famous spat with Nehru when the latter claimed that Patel wished Rajaji to become India’s first president.  V V Giri was not high up the pecking order when Mrs. Gandhi picked him to spite the Congress. Fakhruddin Ahmed signed the Emergency declaration, without cabinet approval. Zail Singh wasn’t the one you would readily like to associate with presidency. 
If you were strong like K R Narayanan or Dr. Abdul Kalam, you earned the disapproval of the head of government. Vajpayee did not quite like the text-book Narayanan and Sonia didn’t want Kalam to continue his stay at the presidential abode. Pranab Mukherjee has been the only active senior politician with prime ministerial capabilities to reside at Raisina Hills; and he did his job with aplomb. He must be complimented for walking out with dignity and grace intact.  
In 2022, we must work towards ensuring that the presidency goes to unattached citizens. It’s an apolitical position and for a politician with decades of hand-washing in real politic, it’s hard to play that role. Even if he were to do a clean job, people would find always attribute motives.  The post must also not go to any of the many constitutional position holders like governors, judges and the chief election commissioners. 
Presidency requires statesmanship and given the fact that the president’s role centres largely around politicians, a statesman can be found from outside the political spectrum.  That’s where you will find an unattached citizen of sterling quality.
None of this is to disrespect the present incumbent.  After all, his story is as close to the story of a newspaper boy who rose from Rameswaram to reside in Raisina Hills. In a setup that has a majoritarian government, a president who can provide sagacity and wisdom is the one we should welcome. One believes that 
Kovind will play that role well.


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