At Rashtrapati Bhavan Doorstep, President-Elect Ram Nath Kovind Recalls Hut, Leaky Roof

Minutes after elected President, Ram Nath Kovind made a brief, emotional statement on his election. Mr Kovind will be sworn in as President on July 25 at parliament's Central Hall.

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At Rashtrapati Bhavan Doorstep, President-Elect Ram Nath Kovind Recalls Hut, Leaky Roof

Ram Nath Kovind has been elected as next President of India with about 66 per cent votes.

NEW DELHI:  On his way to the Rashtrapati Bhavan that will be his home for the next five years, Ram Nath Kovind remembered the thatch-roofed mud hut that used to be his home as a child. It had rained earlier in the day in the national capital. Mr Kovind, who had just been declared President-elect, said the rain had reminded him of his home back in Uttar Pradesh's Paraukh village. The thatched roof could not repel the rain. "My siblings and I would stand along the mud walls to avoid getting wet. And wait for the rain to stop," he said underscoring his humble background and simplicity.

Mr Kovind had made the big transition -- in five days, he will move into the 5-acre presidential palace built in 330-acre estate in the heart of the capital. In a brief statement, the President-elect, 71, spoke of the millions who had not .

"Today there are many Ram Nath Kovinds who are getting drenched in the rain, working hard, toiling in the fields for one square meal in the evening," he said, calling himself their "representative in the Rashtrapati Bhavan".

The second Dalit President of India after KR Narayanan, Mr Kovind admitted it was an "emotional moment" for him to be elected to the country's highest office. But one, he hastened to add, that he had never thought about or worked towards.

The government-backed candidate, a Dalit leader, pitted against the opposition's Meira Kumar won 65.65 per cent votes cast by an electoral college of parliamentarians and state lawmakers on Monday. "I realise it is a great responsibility," he said, pledging to uphold the Constitution. He will be sworn in on July 25.

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