Schedule for the election of next President has been announced by the Election Commission of India. In case of contest, the poll will take place on 17th of July next. Though, the President of India is a titular head of the government and all his/her power is exercised by the Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister in our Parliamentary form of government, there has been occasions when the President had played important role in shaping the democracy of our country.
That is the reason; the choice of President has always been a matter of great concern for both the ruling parties and opposition. In most of the cases, the ruling party or front has been able to install President of its own choice. In the era of coalition politics, whenever the main ruling party has felt weak, it has tries to evolve a consensus over the choice of the President.
The case of APJ Kalam is worth mentioning. In 2002 NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power and it was not able to install a President of its own choice. Hence name of APJ Kalam was floated by the government and NDA was able to enlist the support of opposition Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in his favour. Though Dr Kalam had to face contest, his victory was a foregone fact because of the support he was drawing. In 2007 and 2012, ruling UPA did not face any major problem in installing its candidate in the President House.
In 2017 Presidential election ruling NDA is comfortably placed to have the President of its choice. Alone BJP has 40 percent votes in the Electoral College, which elects the President. All members of Parliament, except those nominated by the President are the part of the voting panel and so all the MLAs of all states. Ruling NDA has around two third majorities in the lower house of the Parliament and it is in power in the many states of India.
According to a study, NDA commands more than 48 percent of total vote strength of the Electoral College and it needs only 20,000 additional votes to ensure the victory of its candidate, in case other opposition parties joined hands to field their own candidate. YSR Congress has pledged its support to NDA candidate and TRS is also likely to do the same, NDA does not fear any contest. Apart from TRS and YSR Congress, NDA may also enlist the support of both factions of All India Anna DMK, giving its candidate a comfortable win in case of contest.
But, NDA has got one weak spot, too, and it is Shiva Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. At many times Shiva Sena sails its boat according to its own whims. In 2007, when it was part of NDA, it had decided to go against its candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat by giving plea that Pratibha Patil was a Maratha Manush. Again in 2012, it had supported UPA candidate Pranab Mukherji, though NDA had fielded its own candidate.
Shiva Sena has not made it clear which way will it go in the election, but few days ago, it had demanded that RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat should be made the next President of India. His demand has not been accepted either by BJP or Bhagwat himself, there is possibility that Shiva Sena may chalk out its own course. If someone like Sharad Pawar is made opposition candidate, Shiva Sena may again give Maratha Manush plea to ditch NDA.
Hence, it would be wise for NDA and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to avoid confrontation with the opposition parties and try to evolve consensus over the choice of President. But, the ruling BJP has not given any hint about its choice for the highest post of the country. Now the poll schedules have been announced, all eyes are set on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be revealing his mind over the choice of the next President. He will also make it open, whether he wants to have the President of his own choice or he would like to go for a consensus candidate.
-Contributed by Kriti
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