The Royal Raisina Race
The race to occupy the Lutyens Zones top palace in Raisina Hills has begun but it won’t be easy for the ruling party, Congress to get his man easily through to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The event is two months away. The Congress doesn’t have any person in the fold to get elected unopposed. The NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s statement for preferring a non political person for the presidential post has further increased the problem of the Congress.
In this way, Pawar has not only shown his disagreement with the name of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma of his own party but also with the possible names of Congress Party leaders doing the rounds ie. Dr Karan Singh, Pranab Mukharjee, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Meira kumar, Shiv Raj Patil.
The first liking of Sonia Gandhi may favour Shinde who is known for mild, soft speaking and having experience as Union Minister and Chief Minister. He has once been the choice of Mrs Gandhi earlier to contest the election for Rashtrapati. He has an additional advantage of belonging to scheduled caste and his cordial relations with Sharad Pawar is well known.
It will be smooth sailing for Dr Karan Singh also if proposed by Congress since the opposition does not have any thing to speak against him and BJP might also support his name. Dr Singh is a highly learned person of utmost integrity, who has not taken the government banglow inspite of his entitlement.
Mrs Gandhi might not have been interested in the names of Pranab Mukharjee since the death of Arjun Singh, he is the only trouble shooter of the party and that of Meira Kumar as she has once ditched the Congress president by leaving the party. The name of Shiv Raj Patil will not be in the fitness of things since he has not only lost Lok Sabha election but was also departed unceremoniously from the union cabinet for his failure who became known for changing his attire many times a day.
Among the non political persons, the names so far being taken are of former President Abdul Kalam, Vice President Mr Hamid Ali Ansari, Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi and of Gopal Gandhi. Mr Ansari and Qureshi are the former bureaucrats and belong to the minority hence Qureshi may not be preferred if Hamid Ansari has to be repeated as Vice President because of the liking of left parties for Hamid Ansari.
Abdul Kalam is one name which will be acceptable for the Opposition if proposed by the Congress but the Congress itself and the left parties might not be comfortable with him. Gopal Gandhi is another name which the Opposition may accept. His work was fairly well and was praised as Governor of Bengal. He is an offspring of Mahatma Gandhi.
It is not easy for any party to bring a dark horse in the race this time and It is not an uphill task either for the Congress to get a person elected unopposed, if chosen cautiously in consultation with its allies and the other supporting parties such as SP and BSP. As on today the possibility of Dr Karan Singh, Shinde and Abdul Kalam seems to be more definite for getting elected unopposed. If a President has to be elected by the public election as is being done in many other countries, the balance would defiantly be in favor of Dr Karan Singh and Abdul Kalam because of their tall stature, integrity, popularity, skill, knowledge and wisdom apart from their proven track record in the past.
In case of elections none of the party should bind or whip their party men to vote for a particular candidate and rather be left to the voice of their soul. This happened in the past when Indira Gandhi got elected VV Giri against a Congress candidate Neelam Sanjiva Reddy by giving a call to the electorate to vote on the voice of their soul.
This is the time when the country, really needs a person of high stature as President since the world is passing through the most crucial and competitive stage and a yes man or a petticoat Rashtrapati may not play its role when the occasion arises. The scenario after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections apparently looks for a hung Parliament hence the job of the President to install a democratic government would be more difficult than ever before.
By Dr Vijay Khaira