On Monday, the BJP selected Ram Nath Kovind as its candidate for the next President of India. While the decision took many by surprise, there are many interesting facts about Kovind who is currently the Governor of Bihar.
In 2009, the Ranganath Mishra commission had recommended 10 per cent reservation for Muslims and 5 per cent for other minorities in government jobs. The commission also favoured Schedule Caste status for Dalits in all religions.
It was Kovind who had then called for the scrapping of the commission. He said Islam and Christianity were alien to the nation.
While addressing a press conference in March 2010, he had said, "Islam and Christianity are alien" to India and, therefore, the Bharatiya Janata Party feels people from the minority groups, even if their socio-economic condition is low, should not be given the privilege of quota in jobs, legislative bodies and education.
Ramnath Kovind called for scrapping of the Ranganath Misra commission report that recommended 15 per cent quota in government jobs for socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities in India.
The National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by Justice Ranganath Misra, former chief justice of India, has in its report also recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts as Scheduled Castes and given a quota to that category.
"No, that is not possible," said Kovind. "Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional." When he was asked how Sikh Dalits were enjoying the quota privilege in the same category, Kovind said, "Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation."
He said that "it is very well known" that convert Dalit Christians and Muslims get better education in convent schools.
"The educational level of Scheduled Caste children remains much lower than that of convert Dalits and Muslims. The children of converts will grab major share of reservation in government jobs. They would become eligible to contest elections on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. This would encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of Indian society," he said. "The Misra commission report should be scrapped because (its recommendations) will jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes," he said.