Only once in the history of the Republic has a presidential election been reduced to a political dogfight, happily it was not so when Ram Nath Kovind was declared elected the 14th President of India. Though the numbers always favoured the nominee of the ruling party, that he polled 65.65 per cent of the votes would serve as a robust platform for his tenure in Rashtrapati Bhawan which commences a few days hence.

The non-controversial former Governor of Bihar confirmed that he retains the humility of his simple origins when he made a brief acceptance speech that actually projected him in more benign light than the encomiums showered upon him by his NDA backers.

Kovind struck the right tone, how he will maintain that balance and restraint will determine how worthy a successor he will prove to Pranab Mukherjee.

The latter will remain in New Delhi and be available for enlightened guidance, his experience and political sagacity could be profitably tapped. Having risen above party affiliation, the new President should not feel embarrassed over consulting the man who has earned the appreciation of the Prime Minister. It is in India’s interests that there is continuity in the manner in which presidential duties are discharged.

 Kovind’s acknowledging the credentials of his main rival is reassuring ~ in elevating contrast from the way in which other elections are being contested. It is therefore necessary to inject an element of the negative into the narrative. For the record Meira Kumar congratulated Kovind, but was it necessary for her to express a hope the he would accord the Constitution requisite sanctity?

Does she have any cause to doubt Kovind’s capacity to do the job with which the nation has tasked him?

Kumar lowered her own prestige when she detailed the “ideology” for which she stood ~ ideology which did not suffice to attract the “conscience” of members of the Electoral College. The so-called “cross-voting” (technically a misnomer in a presidential election) generally went in favour of Kovind.

When will the Congress party learn to accept defeat gracefully? Its spokespersons on TV suggested they were sour losers, unable to come to terms with their party’s continuing decline. To list the priorities Kovind must set for himself would be an act of arrogance: still, the general public would hope he is capable and mature enough to rein in the “over-enthusiastic” elements in the saffron-fold ~ election victories tend to cause them to go overboard.

A passing thought in conclusion: would the verdict have been so one-sided had the Congress/Opposition not opted for a “Dalit versus Dalit” affair and given the electors a genuine choice by adhering to initial plans and not relegating Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi to a secondary role?