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Presidential race 2017 – a certain darkness is needed to see the stars
A per a news report by PTI, BJP's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind will make Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma's residence at 10 Akbar Road in the heart of Lutyens Delhi as his new temporary address till the presidential election on July 17. Earlier this week, the ruling National Democratic Alliance had named Kovind as its presidential nominee. He has already got the backing from several non-NDA parties, including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and both factions of the AIADMK.

Now a few words about his host Mahesh Sharma also:

India's union culture minister Mahesh Sharma is known for his brazen and often provocative statements. He has always been receiving unprecedented publicity for his quotes and often received the very unsavory headlines in news.

Here are some of his statements that efficaciously reflect his level of knowledge, wisdom and predilection:

His comment on 'night out for girls not part of Indian culture'

He had said, "We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation need to be restored — be it the history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutes that have been polluted over years." His comments had come during a meeting with leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the first week of September, when he pledged to launch a countrywide movement to rid the nation of "sanskritik pradushan (cultural pollution)".

"I don't think Aurangzeb was an ideal person. Only a source of inspiration can be inspirational. Aurangzeb Road has been named after such a great man who, despite being a Muslim, was a nationalist and a humanist, APJ Abdul Kalam. The road has been named after him," the minister said.

"Gita and Ramayana reflect India's soul. But we also respect Quran and would include best thoughts from it. I respect Bible and Quran but they are not central to soul of India in the way as Gita and Ramayana are. As India's cultural minister, I recommend that Ramayana and Gita should be part of our school curriculum and I am working extensively with HRD Minister Smriti Irani towards this."

In an interview to India Today, Sharma made another statement - "In our culture women of three generations cook food in the same kitchen... in Europe, a 16-year-old leaves home. Culture defines a nation. The time has come to win back our culture from the negative influence of Western culture."

"I am a soldier of the Modi government. I cannot go beyond the Prime Minister's line of action. I only remark within my capacity and on those matters that are related to my ministries. From time to time, we receive directions from the party high command about commenting on political issues. I do not cross boundaries drawn by the high command."

And if you are not fully flabbergasted, let us go into flash back and recall what the sure winner of Presidential race thinks about some important issues.

Shri Ram Nath Kovind was once a spokesperson of BJP, " style="font-style:normal">seven years ago. While reacting on the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission's recommendation about the inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts among the scheduled castes, he had on record said that "Islam and Christianity are alien" to India. He was a little known BJP leader then. Kovind had said, "Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional. Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation. It is very well known that converted Dalit Christians and Muslims get a better education in convent schools. The educational level of Scheduled Caste children remains much lower than that of converted Dalits and Muslims. The children of converts will grab a 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."

Shri Kovind was also one of two defence witnesses examined in the famous case of 'CBI vs Bangaru Laxman' in 2012. "He deposed that he knows Bangaru Laxman for last 20 years. He deposed that Bangaru Laxman is a straight forward, simple and honest person, who became President of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)," the court noted in its judgment. Laxman, who was BJP president at the time of a sting operation conducted by in 2001, was eventually found guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2012.

Let the readers recall that one of the 18 accused in Akhlaq's murder case, Robin aka Ravi Sisodia, was taken to Delhi's Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Hospital from the Noida district hospital after he complained of pain but died there on October 4, 2016 due to kidney failure. His dead body was draped in tricolor. On October 8, 2016, Minister of Culture Shri Mahesh Kumar met the family of 22-year-old Ravi Sisodia to condole the death of the accused.

We know where we as a nation are heading for. The next stop from the residence of Mahesh Kumar for Shri Kovind is Presidential Palace.

The history of recent past bears witness that Dalits have been at the receiving end of atrocities since NDA has come to power at the Centre. As a Dalit, Kovind is said to be the government's best bet to get opposition parties on board as well as salvage its anti-Dalit image.

However, Dalit activists have expressed cynicism over the decision saying it only highlights the hypocrisy of the government.

Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader from Gujarat says, "This is not the first time the NDA government has appointed a President from a community that was under attack. For instance after the Gujarat riots in 2002, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was nominated as President by the NDA. This time they have done the same with Ram Nath Kovind. On one hand, there are continued incidents of violence and discrimination like in Una and Saharanpur. There has been no justice for Rohith Vemula's death and targeting of the Bhim Army cadres especially Chandrashekar Azad Ravan. And then, on the other hand you make a Dalit president. It is clearly a political gimmick."

Prof MP Ahirwar, a Dalit professor at the Banaras Hindu University said, "On one hand, the hands of BJP and RSS are covered in the blood of Dalits. On the other hand, they are trying to show that they care about the Dalit community by making one of them a President. This reeks of hypocrisy."

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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