A Kashmiri as the Vice-President
Right move at the right time
In the Constitutional design of things the election to the highest posts of President and Vice-President has to be above the narrow considerations of region, religion, caste, creed and political affiliations. Although the two posts are more or less ceremonial in nature with Vice-President having the onerous task of presiding over the Rajya Sabha also, the unwritten rules say that the nominees should have the vision and ability to understand the Constitutional intricacies and political nuances which is more desired in the current era of coalition politics.
There is no doubt that men of stature and eminent personalities have in the past brought prestige to these top posts. But it would be naive to say that the entire process of selection of candidates or the subsequent campaigning is conducted in an apolitical or a non-partisan manner. Frankly speaking it is impossible to follow these yardsticks in a bubbling democracy like ours and that to in the murkier coalition era where there is a continuous clash, becoming vicious by the day, between the national political parties and the regional players.
It is desirable that entire process, from selection of candidates to election campaign, should be conducted only from the national perspective. But given the complex diversity of India with ever-growing regional aspirations, which of late is being increasingly used as means to come to power rather than actually catering to the regional sentiment, it is hard to follow the national perspective all the time.
The theory propounded here about following a national perspective in the Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections in no way means that all other factors should be ignored while selecting the candidates. After all there was a national perspective involved, of being a woman candidate, in the selection of the incumbent President Mrs Pratibha Devi Singh Patil though large sections of people disagreed with her candidature.
In the context of the ongoing Presidential election both Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA nominee and his rival Mr Purno Sangma are using different yardsticks to seek the mandate. While Mr Mukherjee has shunned all parochial tags including the prospects of being the first President from West Bengal, in a total contrast Mr Sangma has left no stone unturned in marketing his tribal credentials. The latter has no qualms in even giving political colouring to his campaign.
Getting back to the theory of a national perspective in these elections, there is a very thin line separating the national perspective and regional aspirations. A holistic view needs to be taken while considering a person’s candidature purely on region, religion, caste or creed basis. There is no harm in selecting a candidate under these considerations provided he or she has the stature and acumen needed at that level.
There is no intention of seeking a special treatment for Jammu and Kashmir even in the matter of choosing candidates for the top two posts of the country which may be misconstrued by the opponents of the special status to the state as an extension of Article 370. Sometimes the political and social conditions in a particular region or place demand a special focus in these matters also. And what if the area has suitable and eminent candidates of high calibre and good public stature?
For the last three Presidential elections, including the present one, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has lost the chance of having a native as the occupant of the Raisina Hill mansion. Who better than the former Sadar-e-Riyasat of the state Dr Karan Singh to be at the top seat? A visionary, educationist, philosopher, writer, thinker and what not, his claim has been overlooked due to political compulsions.
There could be no better timing than at present to at least consider a nominee from the state for the post of Vice-President. A Kashmiri Muslim’s elevation to the second highest post of the country will send a right message not only to the countrymen but also internationally, particularly across the border, that people of Jammu and Kashmir have greater stakes in the governance of the country.
The great Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah would have become President of India if he had wanted as he was offered the chance in the late 1970s before his demise. The hardcore political practioner viewed the offer as an intrigue to dislodge him from state politics. His son Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is still making some efforts for the Vice-President’s post, could have bagged any of the two top posts when he was hobnobbing with the anti-Congress political formations in the 1980s. But for reasons best known to him, it never happened.
There is a national perspective involved in backing a candidate from Kashmir to the post of Vice-President. Sensing the general mood in Kashmir the political parties should close their ranks and unanimously select a candidate for the post. There is no dearth of good candidates. The JKPCC chief Prof Saif-u-Din Soz is also in the reckoning along with Dr Abdullah. It will be the right move at a right time.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 9 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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