How Meira Kumar can defeat Kovind

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from: The Financial Express

Presidential Election 2017: The election to India's top position is now an open race between NDA's Ram Nath Kovind and Opposition's Meira Kumar. Interestingly, both are Dalit leaders, lawyers by training and born in the same year - 1945. At present, it is all but certain that Kovind has more number of votes in his favour than Kumar. But then the Presidential election will take place on July 17. Which means over three weeks are still left for the crucial election and we cannot predict in which direction the political waves will flow in the coming days until July 17.

For now, Kovind is in a comfortable position. He has the backing of BJP, its allies and several small parties including JD(U), BJD, TRS, AIADMK and YSR Congress. The votes of these parties sum up to over 60 per cent of the required number, which is more than enough for Kovind's win. Around 17 big and small parties including Congress, BSP and SP are with Kumar. But their vote sum up to only 40 per cent.

The above numbers show, Kumar is all set to lose. But, can the reverse happen? Over three weeks are left still and we know that words of political parties can't be taken for granted. Politicians are known for shifting loyalties and even proving their own words as lies. If all the Non-NDA parties, who are supporting Kovind, shift their support, the Dalit leader from Kanpur Dehat may find himself on a sticky wicket on July 17.

Moreover, Kumar comes with the reputation of beating tall Dalit leaders. In her very first General election in 1985 from Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh, Kumar had beaten Dalit stalwarts like BSP supremo Mayawati and LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, who is presently with the NDA. If Kumar manages to repeat her own past, she would be the President.

Anything can happen in an election. We cannot write-off any of the two candidates right now. The ultimate winner in the Presidential election 2017 would be decided by how the politics unfold in the coming days. At least, this can be said with the benefit of hindsight.

In 1969, favourite Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, who had the backing of All India Congress Committee, had lost to an independent candidate V V Giri, who was backed by then PM Indira Gandhi. There was also a third candidate, put up by the Opposition, CD Deshmukh. Gandhi had appealed for a "vote of conscience" to Congress lawmakers, which ultimately made Giri the President. What if something similar happens in 2017 ?

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