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Politics at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Politics at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Highlights

Even as Congress President Sonia Gandhi is to host a lunch today for Opposition leaders as part of efforts to arrive at a consensus over the Opposition candidate, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday probably gave enough hints that he may not be in the race for another term in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Even as Congress President Sonia Gandhi is to host a lunch today for Opposition leaders as part of efforts to arrive at a consensus over the Opposition candidate, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday probably gave enough hints that he may not be in the race for another term in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Congress-led Opposition has given enough indications that it will not be averse to a second term for Mukherjee if the government agrees. But, the ruling party has not positively responded. It will certainly be a celebration of democracy if there is national political consensus on the candidate for the highest Constitutional office in the country. But, in an electoral democracy where battle lines are drawn politically and ideologically, any election is an instrument of political one-upmanship.

In Indian Parliamentary democracy, President of India is only a titular head of the State. Yet, the office of President assumes greater significance when serious Constitutional questions arise.
Realising the mood of the ruling dispensation, the seasoned political statesman has opted out to avoid unnecessary rabble rousing over his candidature.

In fact, it would have been much easy for the opposition to arrive at a consensus over Mukherjee. Though being a Congress veteran, he has not ruffled government’s feathers. Yet, the BJP which is ideologically committed to revisit the secular socialist Constitution of India would like to have a saffron politician in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

This is no secret. Even the Union Home Minister expressed in Parliament his government‘s ideological aversion to these words calling them a later day inclusion through Constitutional amendment. Precisely, the opposition parties despite their political angularities seem to be converging on a common candidature due to these apprehensions.

The presidential race seems to be a keen contest given the political arithmetic in the electoral college that comprises Parliament and State Assembly members. But, the YSR Congress in a strange shift decided to go with the ruling NDA, though its arch-rival TDP is its partner.

Despite the latest war of words, the TRS in all likelihood may support the NDA nominee. Thus, the Modi government will have an edge. In the run-up to the polls, the NDA may even rope in some more parties using its political clout in New Delhi.

The opposition strategy is very clear. It does not want the BJP to go uncontested in this prestigious election. Given the narrow gap in the electoral college, the united opposition despite some dissensions hopes for a spirited fight. If unable to script a victory, it would at least trigger vivacious polemics over the saffron political narrative.

The opposition is contemplating on the candidature of Gopalakrishna Gandhi. He has two distinct advantages. Both the TMC and the CPI (M), the poles apart, agree on his name. Being the grandson of C Rajagopalachari, the opposition can try to woo the Tamil parties too.

If the TRS is estranged after Amit Shah‘s tour and the Shiv Sena plays the role of Trojan Horse, the opposition can even upset the NDA apple cart. Shiv Sena voted for Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. If the opposition can arrive at a consensus, the race for Rashtrapati Bhavan would be fervent.

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