Millennium Post

Race for Raisina Hills

The Indian presidential election is a game about which political formation manages their reputation best and serves no other purpose. Sangma’s attempt for Raisina Hills under Tribal Forum of India and presence of a well known tribal leader and Congress MP while filing nomination says it all.

P A Sangma on Thursday claimed that tribal leaders cutting across party lines are unitedly behind him and took potshots at Congress for not standing by his candidature for the president's post despite enjoying the support of tribals for decades. The recent announcement by Jharkhand Dishom Party (JDP), Supremo Salkhan Murmu, 'For us Tribal Sangma is even ‘greater’ than the first non-white US president Barak Obama. We hope Sangma would win the election and eradicate the disparities', is needed to be noted as the 13th presidential elections of India are turning out to be far more byzantine than any presidential elections in the previous two decades. Spearheaded by the rising relevance of regional parties in the country, it is fascinating to witness the riot of political designs that are fuelling the ascent to the most sanctified position in the country.

The president of India by constitution is envisioned to be an individual with impeccable repute and acceptability. Being the first person of a nation of billions the president is in merry times a ceremonial designation but in turmoil is poised to be the guardian of the constitution.

Resuming onto the current scenario, the 13th presidential election of 2012 has been witness to a plethora to bizarre spectacles. If given the opportunity to compare, such anomaly prevailed during the election of late Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy during the Indira Gandhi government. Lady Gandhi did not express support to the official candidate of her political party thereby resulting in the election of president V V Giri as the 6th president. Eventually the J P movement did pick up pace, Indira Gandhi lost the election and Reddy became the first and only president of the country to be elected unopposed on 25 July 1977.

But the country has traversed immensely from the 70’s and the previous four tenures of presidential candidates have been relatively semantic. The president of our great nation is arguably selected due to the immense lobbying prior to suggesting a name for the masses to recognise. The reason for resorting to adopting the term ‘selected’ rather than ‘elected’ is due to the somewhat unanimous opinion regarding the declared presidential candidates.

Contrarily 2012 was an antagonistic portrait; the declaration of the presidential candidate and the ambiguity that led to the medley was out in the open. The United Progressive Alliance-II struggling to cope with the addling necessity of maintaining the magical 273 in the Lok Sabha has been hounded by allies who have been dallying away from the coalition. Such is the dilemma for the Congress led UPA government that arch rivals (communist parties) were interchanged [with Trinamool Congress] when the party wanted to pass the Nuclear Bill. Even worse, the still pending Lok Pal Bill presented by the government was blatantly opposed by allies Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party. The ruling coalition in the country is struggling with the lack of trust within the partners.

The major opposition is not presenting any rosier a picture, the Shiv Sena opposed the National Democratic Alliance’s candidate and supported the UPA’s. Nitish led Janata Dal (United) maintained a studied silence and focused on targeting Narendra Modi rather than supporting the coalition. The endorsement of Sangma was delayed to cause magnified suspense on the consensus within the alignment.

It is not that this is the first time disarray has been over the future president of the country, the election of K R Narayanan wherein he competed against T N Seshan too was a nail biter. But unlike the 13th elections the ruling coalition generated consensus prior to announcing names.

If the aforementioned discrepancies were not enough to force one to ponder over the state of affairs in our great nation, the justification for Sangma’s nomination is even more appalling. The preamble is openly denounced when once announces that a ‘tribal’ has never been the president of the country; hence Sangma’s application should be considered. All theories of equality and discrimination are discarded when such a statement is issued. The constitution of the quasi con federal state of India is ridiculed and the fundamentals are questioned.

The declaration of Somnath Chatterjee as the presidential nominee by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamta Banerjee is another blot on the 13th presidential elections. Subsequent media reports revealed that the former speaker was unaware of the development, further ridiculing the ‘hit and trial’ procedure adopted by the parties.

Though it is somewhat understood that the UPA nominee would be the next first person of India as in a show of strength, UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday seemed to have a clear edge over NDA nominee Sangma in terms of allies turning up in his support, however the road for new president is not as obvious as it was for his predecessors.

Rajiv Mishra is CEO, Lok Sabha TV.
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