Who are the 16 presidents of India

India's new president becomes an "untouchable" one

16%

of the Indian population belong to the former caste of the "untouchables".

Two (un) same candidates

Ram Nath Kovind versus Meira Kumar, man versus woman, lawyer versus diplomat, People's Party BJP versus Congress Party. The two candidates for the presidential post had only one thing in common: They come from the former caste of the "untouchables". Its members are still discriminated against, years after the rigid caste system was relaxed. They are often denied access to wells or temples because they are traditionally considered "unclean".

The decision of the BJP and the Congress Party to run "Dalits" as presidential candidates is anything but a social gesture. The "untouchables" know that too. They fear that despite the election of one of their own as president, their situation will not improve. Sending Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar into the race was based on political calculation. Because the "untouchables" make up 16 percent of the Indian population and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP wants to expand his power further.

Power games behind the scenes

Surrendering the post of president to a "Dalit" was a smart move. Because, like the German Federal President, the Indian head of state also performs more representative tasks. He is the commander-in-chief of the army, represents the state at home and abroad, signs laws and otherwise largely stays out of the day-to-day events.

The government rests with the Prime Minister, currently Narendra Modi of the Hindu-nationalist, right-wing conservative people's party BJP. And Modi holds the reins of power firmly in hand. In 2014 he won the general election with an overwhelming majority. The only party that could endanger the BJP, the once powerful Congress Party, is now only a shadow of itself. Even the impressive résumé of diplomat Meira Kumar could not change that. In addition, the opposition is very divided. With this election, the ruling party has once again consolidated its power base, also with a view to the 2019 parliamentary elections.