A lot of air time, print space over the past few days has been given, to what until sometime back, for masses of India was a nondescript exercise – election of President of India. Thanks to the ‘Civics’ everyone had to study in early school days, we are aware that such a post/position/chair/authority exists in the republic of India. We are conveniently made aware of that key word or I must say two words associated deeply with the President of India, you have guessed it right by now – rubber stamp.
For the General Knowledge exam learning first President of India was important, Teachers Day on 5thSeptember helped us remember the second President. Are you still recalling who the gentlemen were? If so, I will not give you any hint for it. I have to be me, a Lecturer, right? However who was our third President, then the following ones, is a little far cry. Political enthusiasts might remember the famous cases of Giani Jail Singh passing order for Rajiv Gandhi to be Prime Minister mid-air, literally; or a Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy became President from being Lok Sabha Speaker. Or in recent times the Missile Man generated enough interest for us to read a little about the President.
All that data apart Indian President, the head of the three forces, the titular republic head plays only the role of being a rubber stamp; yes stamping away the numerous appointments, the Bills, the Presidential pardons etc. The last act has come in the limelight recently with the first lady President of India granting quite a few on her way out. Not to mention she has also hogged the limelight for her expensive foreign tours in the times-of-austerity.
But never has the election of President captured so much of people’s attention as it is doing now. The ruling party wants its man Friday Pranabda to go to Raisina Hills whereas after much dilly dallying the BJP wants former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma to give the fight. And in the process has a lot of political activity occurred. Alliance partners of the two major blocs in Indian politics have played what they are best at – politics. With a looming early election which otherwise is not far off being in 2014 have caused parties to realign or at least set course for possible realignments.
The Presidential battle is a lost cause notwithstanding Sangma’s hope that in secret ballot legislators would hear the call of their conscience and cast vote for him defying party diktats. Even if that were to be the case, whether he will garner requisite votes is doubtful. He is also seeking a debate similar to those of US presidential elections with Mr. Mukherjee. He probably fails to realise that the public has not forgotten their civics lessons and sees no point in a debate when they understand loud and clear that whoever goes to Raisina Hills will have least to do in tackling the financial issues, the corruption issues, the governance issues, the judicial issues or even the day to day issues that bothers a common man.
Mr. Mukherjee might be Sonia Gandhi’s insurance for a mid-term election after 2014 and some analysts have reported; others believe Pranabda wanted a way out after years of being a political manager, the Prime Minister India never had. Whatever the reason be, daily governance will be affected in a major way unless 10 Janpath has a plan in place. P A Sangma if could cause some benefit to the long neglected north east, his candidature would have been welcome, but as a ceremonial head there will be little he can do.
Moral of the story is that it is not of grave concern who the President of India is unless someone like A Raja or Shahrukh Khan or M S Dhoni is propped up to the post (Sorry if you are a SRK or Dhoni fan). The hype and hoopla over the days has been majorly due to political realignments, primarily of the regional parties like SP, TMC, AIADMK, rather than anything else. Regional political parties having sensed the disenchantment with national level parties have set their eyes on 2014. They realise they will play a major role in deciding the Prime Minister of the country then; whoever the President is, hardly matters.
|This is a Guest post by Sambit Dash. He is a Lecturer at the Dept. of Biochemistry & Genetics, KMC International Center, Manipal, India. His personal Blog is at SambitSpeak.|