India elects a new president

India elects a new president

After incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee announced he would not stand for re-election in January, an electoral college comprised of legislators

Photo: PIB

Photo: PIB

After incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee announced he would not stand for re-election in January, an electoral college comprised of legislators is set to elect his successor today.

With Prime Minister Modi’s right-wing BJP dominating the national and state parliaments, the election of Ram Nath Kovind will likely be a mere formality. While the president’s role is largely ceremonial—executive powers are mostly wielded by the prime minister—Kovind’s election will likely consolidate the BJP’s grip on power.

The former governor is part of the Dalit caste, which makes up an estimated 15% of the subcontinent’s population but remains marginalised. While PM Modi praised Mr Kovind as a “strong voice for the poor, downtrodden & marginalised”, his opponents fear he will only be a token to advance the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist agenda.

Meira Kumar, also a Dalit and Kovind opponent, said that the upcoming election was about more than the contest between two persons, but about upholding “the secular fabric of the country”.