On 10 June 2002, the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced his decision to appoint scientist Abdul Kalam as presidential candidate. This surprised the opposition. The media acclaimed as if it were a master stroke, a descriptor that is now used to praise all the decisions made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Who could argue against Kalam’s election? It was already known as the rifle of India, had played a leading role in the nuclear test in 1998 and was a Muslim. One of India’s Muslim nationalist armed was not the person that Prime Minister Vajpayee needed to calm his ideological criticism.
The summer of 2002 was repeated in June 2017. Once again, the BJP threw the opposition into chaos with its election of Ram Nath Kovind as presidential candidate. Just as one can not oppose a Muslim nationalist can not criticize the election of a Dalit.
So what is a Dalit who was not well known for being on the street corners to demand, in a strident language, perpetually endings of atrocities perpetrated by members of the higher castes, for being punished; A Dalit who is not known to criticize the caste hierarchy of India and has not threatened to alter the balance of power in society?
One can only support a dalit, since you have a Muslim general or a defense scientist. If you do not, you have to be labeled as anti-Dalit, as Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has already warned those who would vote against Kovind. In this way, for once, ideology and identity became overlapping.
Kalam then Kovind now
The election of BJP Kalam in 2002 and now Kovind as presidential candidates share another similarity. In February-March 2002, Gujarat was the scene of a terrible pogrom which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Muslims. Thousands of dozens of other properties were looted or burned. Many have been uprooted from their homes. This has fueled outrage outside of Gujarat. Anyway, Vajpayee was surprised by the degree of violence.
It is in this context that Kalam was chosen as the BJP candidate. Kalam was supposed to be a nail, so to speak, from collective conscience damage to India. For Muslims who demanded justice, their appointment is very little involved – after all, raising their account at a daily ceremony could not lessen the pain and fear they experienced in Gujarat.
Kalam, however, had a great symbolic significance for Hindus outraged by the failure of the state machinery in Gujarat. For them, Kalam’s election was a guarantee that Sangh Parivar did not completely hate Muslims, but was able to atone for the act of a grave injustice by giving honor to a worthy Muslims. He also strengthened his faith in the much vaunted Vajpayee liberalism.
Similarly, the bottom of the designation of Kovind is the growing boom of Dalit, India has witnessed in the last three years. By insisting that Rohith Vemula, Dalit students from the Central University of Hyderabad who committed suicide in January 2016, actually belonged to other castes back, the Dalit One whipping, in July 2016 for a dead cow skin; Vice President Uttar Pradesh BJP Dayashankar Singh, saying last year that Bahujan Party leader Samaj Mayawati was “worse than a prostitute,” the party that gave Swati Singh, Singh’s wife a ticket to Uttar Pradesh assembly elections , Including the then Ministry Adityanath in March – abounding cases of humiliating Dalit BJP.