Bhaskar Bikram Chetia
As the countdown to the election of the 13th President of India is closing by, confusions regarding the probable candidates have gained momentum.The ruling Congress party is in a fix over selection of its candidate for the post of the most important Constitutional head of the country. The recent developments whereby many political parties have offered the name of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam as their probable candidate, have given rise to the possibility of history being created by Dr. Kalam as the 1st person being re-elected as the President of India on non-successive tenure.
Till a few days back, candidature of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari has been making rounds as the leading names in the Congress. For Mukherjee whose name had also come up in 2007, Rashtrapati Bhavan is seen as a fitting end to a long and distinguished political journey that began over four decades ago. Sonia Gandhi had then offered a flattering excuse to keep him out of Rashtrapati Bhavan: he was praised as too useful to executive governance. The same excuse may be mysteriously repeated once again.
A career diplomat and erudite scholar, Prof. Ansari is however seen as the best suited for the post of President. A minority candidate of the Congress party would suit its political equations, however his controversial role in abruptly ending the Rajya Sabha Session during the discussion on Lok Pal Bill to safeguard the interest of the ruling party, has made it tough to earn the support of the Non-UPA parties for his Presidential candidature. Another name that is doing the rounds is that of veteran Congressman Karan Singh, who is perpetually in the race for the job. A man of letters, the 80-year-old Rajya Sabha MP may present the perfect envoy.
In the present scenario, the Congress and the UPA stands short of the majority in the ‘Electoral College’ comprising of all the members of both the Houses of the Parliament and the members of all the state legislatures that elects the President. The Congress has 31 percent of the total votes against 24 percent of the BJP in an electoral college which is expected to be of the size of 10,98,882. The UPA has a little over 40 percent of the total votes as against 57 percent it had in the last elections. The NDA has less than 30 percent.
However, what has been a matter of grave concern for the Congress party is the differences in the choice of the candidate among the numerous constituent political parties in the U.P.A itself – ie. the Trinamool Congress, the NCP as well as the DMK. The N.D.A at the moment is keeping its cards to itself and maintaining a safe distance from this race owing to its insufficient numbers in the electoral college.
In the mids of these circumstances, another name had propped up from the non-Congress, non-NDA group: NCP Leader from the North East P.A. Changma, the Charismatic ex-Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
However, the emergence of the name of Dr. Kalam seems to have changed the whole situation. One of the most respected and popular Presidents of India, the candidature of Dr. Kalam is being backed by the TMC, SP, BJD, AIADMK and the NDA too is presumed to lend its support to Dr. Kalam who was their own choice for the highest post.
Except for Dr. Rajendra Prasad who was the President for two successive sessions from 1950 till 1962, no other person have held the post on two occasions. Dr. Kalam who is regarded by many as the Best President India ever had, would create history if he gets re-elected after a gap of 5 yrs in office. Let us keep our fingers crossed to witness this historical moment being created in the history of Indian democracy.