A crusader for the rights of the weaker sections of the society, 71-year-old Ram Nath Kovind is a lawyer-turned-politician, whose choice as the BJP-led NDA’s presidential candidate is being seen as a political masterstroke.
The reason - many parties would not like to oppose a Dalit being elected to the country’s highest office.
A champion of the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, OBC, minority and women’s rights from his student days, Kovind is the present Governor of Bihar.
A former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha (1998-2002), Kovind has also served as a national spokesperson of the party. He was also the president of the All-India Koli Samaj.
On August 8, 2015, he was appointed as the Governor of Bihar.
A commerce graduate and LLB from the Kanpur University in Uttar Pradesh, Kovind has been a successful lawyer.
He practised in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and was the central government’s standing counsel in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993.
Kovind became an Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978.
He practised in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court for about 16 years until 1993.
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1994 from Uttar Pradesh and served two consecutive terms till March, 2006.
In Parliament, Kovind was a member of many important committees, especially the parliamentary committee on the welfare of scheduled castes/tribes, the parliamentary panel on social justice and empowerment and the committee on law and justice.
Kovind joined a stir by SC/ST employees when in 1997 certain orders were issued by the Centre which adversely affected their interests.
These orders were later declared null and void after the passage of three amendments in the Constitution during the rule of the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
As an advocate, Kovind took the lead in providing free legal aid to weaker sections, especially the SC/ST women, and poor and needy girls under the aegis of the Free Legal Aid Society in Delhi.
Kovind is also known for his work in the field of education. He has served as member on the board of management of the Dr BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow.
He was also a member of the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
He has also represented India in the United Nations and addressed the UN General Assembly in October, 2002.
As a member of Parliament, Kovind visited Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and the USA.
As an MP, Kovind emphasised on the development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas and helped in construction of school buildings under the MPLAD scheme.
Kovind was born on October 1, 1945 at Kanpur (rural) in Uttar Pradesh. He was married to Savita in 1974 and the couple have a son and a daughter.