Our time has come: Ram Nath Kovind’s village Paraunkh in UP
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Our time has come: Ram Nath Kovind’s village Paraunkh in UP

NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a five-time MP from Bihar, ex-Lok Sabha speaker and daughter of prominent Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram

india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 13:36 IST
Haidar Naqvi
Haidar Naqvi
Kanpur, Hindustan Times
Ram Nath Kovind,Presidential election,Meira Kumar
NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind arrives for NDA meeting at Parliament House in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI)

Dreams have taken wings in Paraunkh, the ancestral village of BJP‘s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur Dehat district.

‘Just let him become the President’, proud villagers say, eagerly awaiting “their time” in history.

Paraunkh erupted in joy after Kovind was named the ruling side’s candidate for the country’s top post. Diwali, usually celebrated in October-November, had advanced, as sweets were distributed, crackers were burst and temples were lit.

Special prayers are still held at the revered Pathri Devi temple for his hassle-free victory.

Kovind is pitted against opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a five-time MP from Bihar, ex-Lok Sabha speaker and daughter of prominent Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram. On Monday, legislators from across the country will line up to vote for either of them. The majority is expected to side with Kovind.

And once that happens, this little-known village of around 9,000 people will shoot to stardom.

Presidential polls from the past
1st Presidential poll (1952)
Candidate NameVotes
Dr. Rajendra Prasad 507,400
K.T. Shah 92,827
Thatte Lakshman Ganesh 2,672
Chowdhry Hari Ram 1,954
Krishna Kumar Chatterjee 533
2nd Presidential poll (1957)
Candidate NameVotes
Dr. Rajendra Prasad 459,698
Chowdhry Hari Ram 2,672
Nagendra Narayan Das 2,000
3rd Presidential poll (1962)
Candidate NameVotes
Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan 553,067
Chowdhry Hari Ram/t6,341
Yamuna Prasad Trisulia 3,537
4th Presidential poll (1962)
Candidate NameVotes
Zakir Hussain 471,244
Kota Subbarao 363,971
Khubi Ram 1,369
Yamuna Prasad Trisulla 232
Bhamburkar Shriniwas Gopal 232
Brahma Deo 232
Krishna Kumar Chatterjee 125
Kumar Kamla Singh 125
Chandradutt Senani 0
U.P. Chugani 0
Dr. M.C. Davar 0
Chowdhry Hari Ram 0
Dr. Man Singh Ahluwalia 0
Manohara Holkar 0
Seetharamaiah Ramaswamy Sharma Hoysala 0
Satyabhakt 0
5th Presidential poll (1969)
Candidate NameVotes
Varahagiri Venkata Giri (INDEPENDENT) 401,515 / 420,077
Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy (INDEPENDENT) 313,548 / 405,427
C.D. Deshmukh 112,769
Chandradatt Senani 5,814
Furcharan Kaur 940
Rajabhoj Pandurang Nathuji 831
Babu Lal Mag 576
Chowdhry Hari Ram 125
Sharma Manovihari Anirudh 125
Khubi Ram 94
Bhagmal 0
Krishna Kumar Chatterjee 0
Santosh Singh Kachhwaha 0
Dr. Ramdular Tripathi Chakor 0
Shri Ramanlal Prushottam Vyas 0
6th Presidential poll (1974)
Candidate NameVotes
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (INC) 754,113
Tridib Chaudhuri (INDEPENDENT) 189,196
7th Presidential poll (1977)
Candidate NameVotes
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy Won unopposed*
*37 candidates filed nominations, 36 got rejected
8th Presidential poll (1982)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
Zail Singh Indian National Congress 754,113
H.R. Khanna Independent 282,685
9th Presidential poll (1987)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
R. Venkataraman Indian National Congress 740,148
V. R. Krishna Iyer Independent 281,550
Mithilesh Kumar Independent 2,223
10th Presidential poll (1992)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
Shankar Dayal Sharma Indian Nationlal Congress 675,864
G.G. Swell Independent 346,485
Ram Jethmalani Independent 2,704
11th Presidential poll (1997)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
K.R. Narayanan Indian National Congress 956,290
T.N. Seshan Independent 50,631
Kaka Joginder Singh a.k.a. Dharti Pakad Independent 1,135
12th Presidential poll (2002)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
Abdul Kalam Independent 922,884
Lakshmi Sahgal CPI(M) 107,366
13th Presidential poll (2007)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
Pratibha Patil Indian National Congress 638,116
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat Independent 331,306
14th Presidential poll (2012)
Candidate NamePartyVotes
Pranabh Mukherjee Indian National Congress/UPA 713,763
P.A.Sangma Independent 315,987

“I cannot describe the feeling,” says Shiv Swaroop, a farmer. “It just tickles each one of us. It is going to be our identity for next the five years.”

Kovind, like his deeply religious father Maikoo Lal who ran a small grocery shop in the village, was a devotee of the goddess Pathri Devi. After leaving Paraunkh when 13, he went on to study law in Kanpur and practice in Delhi high court and Supreme Court.

He later joined BJP and unsuccessfully contested for assembly elections twice and Lok Sabha from Ghatampur, but was elected Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh in 1994 and went on to serve two consecutive terms.

Paraunkh saw the first signs of development then. All roads were made concrete; Kovind opened a college, and donated his ancestral house which was turned into a Milan (marriage) centre.

“Ours was just an ordinary village with no streets, college, school or doctor,” recalls Vijay Pal Singh, a childhood friend. ”He alone looked into our issues.”

The possibility of miraculous makeover in the next five years is rife in the village. The district panchayat has decided to open a primary health centre here. Earlier, the nearest was in Derapur, eight km away. Kanpur Dehat authorities have begun work on four tubewells, the first ones in the village.

“See, he hasn’t become the president and the works have begun. Imagine what will happen to all of us when he becomes the President,” beams Vijay Pal Singh, hinting at the big hopes people have.

Jaswant Singh, another childhood friend with whom Kovind used to fight a lot, eat sattu together and walk eight kilometres to Khapur, says they will submit a detailed proposal on “what should be done to make Paraunkh a happening village”.

“There will be industries and the young will have jobs,” he announces proudly, sitting on a plastic chair surrounded by people on charpoys. “Just let him become the President.”

Ganga Prasad, who lives in a thatched house, believes like many others, he too would get a new house under the government’s scheme and there would be toilets for them.

“I hear they are going to build new houses for the poor and new toilets. I won’t have travel to the fields for the purpose. And the village will have a proper drainage system,” he hopes.

“We knew our time has come,” says Chandrakli, the village headwoman. “Each household celebrated his ascension. He is our pride. He will remain so.”

Read| Ram Nath Kovind or Meira Kumar: Presidential election 2017 live updates

First Published: Jul 16, 2017 20:10 IST