Presidential choice

By Prof K Nageshwar | THE HANS INDIA |   Jun 22,2017 , 03:34 AM IST

(Picture used for representational purpose only)
(Picture used for representational purpose only)

Despite its overtures to opposition and hype over the so-called consensus for the presidential elections, the BJP had its choice, leaving no scope for a consensus. The party which could muster majority by surgically striking at opposition can get its candidate to Rashtrapati Bhavan.  

In a democracy, the party that either has a majority or could manage it has every right to pick its own choice for any post. The BJP has exercised it. The Sangh Parivar that got the first opportunity to choose a man for the highest Constitutional office would obviously not flitter away such an opportunity. 

For that matter, even the Congress did not do so. No political party would be magnanimous to choose someone outside its immediate parivar for the Presidential office given its importance in an hour of Constitutional chaos and confusion, especially so when it has comfortable numbers. 

Therefore, it is wrong to find fault with what BJP did. But, one would only be critical of its public relations exercise in reaching out to opposition and, thereby, giving an impression that it seeks a consensus.

The choice of Ram Nath Kovind is also clearly political. Choosing a dalit from Uttar Pradesh that accounts for nearly 20 per cent of Lok Sabha seats cannot be accidental. Even the BJP president also started the announcement that the party has chosen a dalit for the post. 

It's unfortunate that caste should be a factor for selection of candidate for the highest Constitutional position. Still, a man from the marginalised sections of society, who has legal background and impeccable public life, getting an opportunity to become the Head of the State of democratic India is a happy augury for inclusive politics.  

But, it would be a real political empowerment of the deprived sections if a dalit or tribal is chosen for a Prime Ministerial position rather than a mere titular head of the nation. 

When the BJP plays politics with caste and region for the Presidential elections, other political parties will also have an equal right to do so. When there is no denying of the fact that the incumbent to Rashtrapati Bhavan is doctrined in RSS ideology, it is audacious to expect its political adversaries to concur. 

The Presidential election is also a political contest. The  BJP was no different while in opposition when it opposed the candidature of a seasoned and scholar politician Pranab Mukherjee for the President post. The only factor that might have prompted the opposition BJP to oppose Pranab Mukherjee was the undisputed fact that he was after all a Congress politician. 

Similarly, when the NDA chooses a BJP politician, the anti- BJP political forces would certainly contest his candidature irrespective of the personal credentials of Ram Nath Kovind. 

Barring the election of Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy , never in the history of democratic India, the Presidential contest could be averted. 

Therefore, it is wrong to read too much into the merging political landscape. It is certainly unbecoming of spirit of democracy to overemphasise politics of consensus and undermine and even question contesting politics. 

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