Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Wednesday suggested that the NDA picked Ram Nath Kovind over L K Advani as its nominee for the President’s post because of his caste, prompting a sharp response from the BJP. Under flak, Gehlot later tweeted that he was “misquoted” and said he has the greatest regard for President Kovind.
At a press conference in Jaipur, Gehlot had linked Kovind’s appointment as President to the Gujarat polls. "People even say that Ram Nath Kovind was made president considering Gujarat assembly elections in 2017,” Gehlot said.
“I was reading an article. He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) was afraid that he was not going to form the government in Gujarat. BJP chief Amit Shah might have given him the suggestion after which it was decided to make Ram Nath Kovind the President," the Congress leader said. "Advani was left out though he was to become the President. People of the country had the expectation that he will get the honour that he deserved but was deprived of,” Gehlot said.
“Though it is the BJP's internal issue, I am discussing it because I read an article," the Rajasthan chief minister added. Kovind was the NDA’s nomination for the President’s post and took oath in July 2017, a few months before the Gujarat assembly polls, which were won by the BJP.
Reacting to the televised remark, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded an apology from Gehlot and urged the Election Commission to take action against him. "It is very unfortunate that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, a senior Congress leader who himself is on a constitutional post, made a casteist remark against the President, who is the custodian of the Constitution," BJP spokesperson G V L Narsimha Rao told reporters.
He said the remark showed the "anti-Dalit" mindset of the Congress. Later, Gehlot claimed he was misquoted.
"It is very unfortunate that my comments during PC have been misquoted by few media houses. I have the greatest regards for the President of India, and personally for Sh. Ramnath ji whom I have met in person and highly impressed with his simplicity and humbleness," he tweeted. PTI AG JTR TDS SNE IND ASH