Indian bishops urge new president to uphold the constitution and the law

The Indian Bishops' Conference congratulates Ram Nath Kovind for his election yesterday. A former governor of Bihar, he is a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. CIBC general secretary urges him to “devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of India.”

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has issued a press release following the election as president of Ram Nath Kovind, from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Signed by CBCI General Secretary Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, the statement was sent to AsiaNews for wider circulation. In it, Church leaders congratulate the new president and “assure him our loyalty and support in the service of our Country.”

“We assure him of our prayers for his good health and for wisdom and strength that he might guide our beloved Country towards Peace, Development and Justice for all peoples.

“We pray that God may assist him that as per the Oath of Office, he will strive ‘to the best of his ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law, and that he will devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of India’.”

Kovind, 71, is India’s 14th president. He was a Supreme Court advocate and a governor of Bihar. He was the candidate for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP.

He won about 66 per cent of the votes in the electoral college against his main rival, Meira Kumar, who was backed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Congress Party. Both Mr Kovind and Ms Kumar are Dalit.

The new president will take the Oath of Office next Tuesday. His victory is seen as another political success for Prime Minister Modi, ahead of the 2019 Union-wide elections.

As a Dalit, he can attract support among India’s 200 million “untouchables” who represent 16 per cent of the electorate.

“May India under his leadership march towards greater heights,” the CBCI statement says at the end. May “God bless our New President and God bless India.”