Impartial nominee for Prez required

The run-up to the Presidential election has started with the Election Commission announcing the schedule for it. The new President in place of Pranab Mukherjee will be elected on July 17 and the result of the contest, if any, will be announced on July 20. The interest is centred on who will be nominated by the NDA, in effect the BJP, for the country’s top constitutional position. There will also be some interest in the nominee of the opposition because of the high office involved, though the opposition may not be able to present a real contest to the NDA. The NDA is well ahead in the electoral college numbers. It had substantially increased its strength with the BJP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. With support from regional parties like the TRS, the YSR Congress and the two factions of the AIADMK, the NDA has the ability to make its candidate win the election without difficulty.

The NDA’s dominant position and the support it has been promised by a spectrum of parties impose on it the responsibility to select a widely acceptable and non-controversial person as its nominee. The President is the symbol of the nation and has the responsibility to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law of the land. Though the head of state is a figurehead with little independent executive power and has to abide by the Cabinet’s advice, the President has important roles in certain situations like the formation of the government in a hung Parliament or the dismissal of state governments under Article 356. A person who can exercise fair and impartial judgement and rise above the noisy and narrow politics of the day would be most suitable for the position. There is no harm in electing a politician as the President but the person should have the ability to go beyond political and other biases. The BJP should avoid the temptation, if it has that, to nominate a divisive and contentious personality for the office which represents the unity of the country.

As it is unlikely that there will be a consensus on such a candidate, the Opposition, comprising the Congress, the Left parties, the Trinamool Congress and others, is expected to look for a candidate who can give the best fight to the NDA nominee. They might want to make the election a platform for their own unity against the BJP, to be sustained and strengthened in the coming months leading up to the next general elections. Presidential elections have been political contests in the past too. But again, it is important of the office remains above politics.

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