The Opposition squandered it again. Just when the anti-Narendra Modi camp was struggling to reach a consensus on their pick for the presidential race, BJP president Amit Shah pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the form of Ram Nath Kovind as the saffron party's candidate. Like each time before, this was once again a master stroke by the Modi camp.
Not just for political reasons. The pick of Kovind gives Modi and Shah the advantage of soothing the feelings of the Dalits who have been facing the wrath of the Hindutva fanatics across the country of late. His extensive work experience in states like UP, from where he belongs, and Bihar, of which he is the governor, also makes his case strong as the future president of India. The RSS connection further makes Kovind a perfect face to become the No.1 citizen of the country in the era of saffron politics.
Just like in Goa and Manipur, Congress missed the bus
But what has given the BJP the biggest advantage is the Opposition's lacklustre approach towards the entire game. Had the Congress, Left and other parties opposing Modi been a more serious observer of the Modi-Shah duo's political acumen, they should have done it faster than the BJP. But as it was found in Goa and Manipur, the Congress was found napping.
The picking of a political candidate for the Rashtrapati Bhavan has proved that the days of immunity for the president of India are over. We may still wish of seeing personalities with a history of accomplishments as the president of the country but that remains more of a wishful thinking and not politically realistic. People like Modi understand that faster than the rest and wastes no time in fooling the rest.
The Opposition and even allies were dumbstruck
Now, the Opposition and even the BJP's frenemy Shiv Sena have very little to do something else. The agenda has been set by the Dalit+UP+RSS factor. The last Dalit president, the late KR Narayanan, who was also the first to hold the coveted post, had won with an overwhelming support in the 1997 presidential elections, leaving very little for his opponent TN Seshan who had even alleged that the former had won because he was a Dalit.
Twenty years later, as India has democratised more with the Dalits emerging as an important player in the country's political life, a face from that community is bound to get a bigger response.
It will be tougher for Mayawati
The BJP's move of picking Kovind might also put BSP supremo Mayawati's importance under a cloud. Having lost a number of key elections, the Dalit messiah is facing the worst existential crisis of her life and by making a Dalit the president of the country, the BJP might have given the deadliest blow to her career.
Moreover, just as the BJP picks Kovind for the presidential position, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath could find an advantage in calming the anger in areas like Saharanpur. For the BJP as well, this would serve as a balm to pacify the Dalits who have been livid with instances like the death of Rohit Vemula.
It is unfortunate that the Opposition could not think of picking a Dalit face faster than the BJP to make full use of the anti-incumbency mood which prevailed among that community. May be because they are too much obsessed with Modi, thinking only about defeating him though without any clue about how to.