On May 6, 2018, during Karnataka assembly election campaign, PM Modi said, “When Modi became the prime minister, we had sufficient power to decide who would become the president. But we made Ram Nath Kovind — a Dalit — the President of India.” (Link for reference)

Is this a fair statement? Is Modi suggesting that President Kovind has no other qualification besides his caste? And can “anybody” really become President as per whims and fancy of the PM? No. It is a castiest and classist remark. Modi is suggesting President Kovind has no worth, but only for his Dalit status, Modi has showered such a big favour. BJP-RSS and most authoritative regimes have a pattern of showering overwhelming favours on a handful of ‘weak/marginalized’ so that they remain obliged. Recently appointed Governor of Chattisgarh, Anasuiya Uikey is another such example. After the appointment she gave media statement expressing her overwhelming happiness and sense of gratitude. She feels obliged to the party and PM now.

Sab mukaddar ki bat hoti hai. Maine koi jugaad nahi kiya thha ladne ke liye. Party ka aadesh hota toh ladhti (it’s all destiny. I did not wangle for the ticket. Had the party directed, I would have contested)”

“I had no idea — the Prime Minister decides it all. Only he knows how he weighs people. It depends on him — who to give what responsibility. Getting such a big responsibility was beyond my dreams.”

Indian Express, July 18, 2019. (Link)

When such important posts like Governor and President are filled with people who may or may not have the competences but are chosen for their gratitude and obligations factor, they will forever remain a puppet of the PM.

I am saying this in the context of Right to Information activists requesting citizens to sign a petition to President Kovind urging him to not give his assent to the Right To Information Bill passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Does the President have the moral courage and conscience to stand up against Modi, who gave him the President post as an act of benevolence?

Lastly, when this remark was made by Modi, Congress failed to see this as an opportunity to attack Modi for the cast reference. But in April 2019 when Ashok Gehlot merely reminded that Kovind was chosen for his caste, something Modi himself proudly claims, BJP attacked Congress and created major outrage. And Gehlot was put on backfoot and promptly apologized. This is exactly why Congress is in such a bad state today. They do not know how to attack, no sharp, shrewd thinker in their camp.