The Presidential Poll
Is it a rehearsal for the General Elections?
VIEWPOINT BY ANIL ANAND
Under the Constitutional scheme of things President of India does not have a much significant role to play but to act on the advice of the Cabinet on all matters important and so the lesser significance of the Presidential elections. But, not this time around.
The Presidential elections-2012 is certainly not an isolated event to elect a titular head of the country as has been in past. It has to be viewed in the light of the next General Elections to be held in two years time in the normal course. And, so the hullabaloo over the selection of the candidates, months before the elections is to be held.
The political class is absolutely restive over the choice of the Presidential candidate or who should replace Pratibha Devi Singh Patil in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. They have a cause to be so for two significant reasons. First and the foremost: The fact that the coalition era has come on to stay as the single party rule is unlikely in the unforeseeably future makes the President’s office more significant for the political diaspora.
And more importantly, the Presidential elections, this time around, is being held at a time when the political parties are already having any eye on the Lok Sabha elections, be it the in-time General Election or a mid-term poll. The permutation and combination which the mainstream political parties such as the Congress and the BJP are working out to field and ensure the success of the candidates of their respective combines will have an important bearing on the Lok Sabha polls.
The alliance that will be stitched for the Presidential elections will ultimately end up becoming crucial role model for the final hustings. This election in a way can be termed to be the rehearsal or a semi-final before the final outing in 2014.
Here, no one can ignore the significance of the regional players who have got an extra shot of energy in the form of Chief Ministers Mamta Banerjee, J Jayalalithaa, Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and Akhilesh Yadav. Will they or won’t they be part of the Congress-led UPA or the BJP-led NDA in the Lok Sabha elections? Only the time will tell. But one can say with certainty that they have the potential to keep both the parties on tenterhooks so far as the Presidential elections are concerned which they have already started proving.
The Janata Dal(U), an ally of the NDA, taking on the BJP over the issue of rejecting Hamid Ansari’s possible Presidential candidature after the senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj described him as the one “lacking stature” to become President. Trinmool Congress (read Banerjee) flexing muscles every time the name of a prospective candidate is tossed by the Congress camp. These are symptomatic of the growing significance of the regional players.
But with their different agenda, varied regional aspirations and political ambitions, these smaller groups also have the potential of becoming vulnerable to the national pressures and gullible to the olive branch extended by the national political parties. In this context, the Congress-led UPA has an advantage as it is in a better place to convince or pressurise its allies and supporting parties such as Trinmool Congress, Samajwadi Party and DMK who put together can play a deciding role in electing the next President. Well, this does give the UPA some edge over the NDA or the Federal Front being touted by these Chief Ministers but cannot be described as a decider at this juncture as the fledgling political scenario has the potential to turn on any side.
The lot of dust being kicked in the shape propping up one or the other name to become the first citizen of the country has a direct relation to this fluid political situation and compulsions of coalition politics. In this era of political uncertainty every single move, barring Swaraj’s rejection of Hamid Ansari’s candidature as a possible Presidential candidate, has a purpose if not to outwit the opponents but at least to feel the mood.
The fact of the matter is that the debate on the Presidential nominees has begun too soon this time due to these reasons. And the issues such as the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre has given a handle to the regional players, Federal Front, to use it as a counter-mechanism to have their say in the Presidential elections. In the normal course, these players would have ended up supporting the candidate of one or the other combine or at least having some role in finding a consensual candidate. That may eventually happen but not before they extract some pound of flesh from the combine they ultimately back.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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