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India: Political Storm on Presidential Elections
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer

Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, vice president of India

A fter the last date of filing the nominations for the presidential election in India, the picture of election is now clear. There is going to be a direct contest between the candidate of the ruling party that is Unite Progressive Alliance (UPA) Mrs. Pratibha Patil & the so called independent candidate, the present Vice President of India Mr. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. On the basis of the statistics of votes, if there is no cross voting, it is quite clear that UPA candidate Pratibha Patil will win the crown. It will be for the first time that a woman will become the first citizen of India & occupy the highest constitutional office of the country in India. About the election campaign for the presidential elections, the last month was full of developments in the Indian politics. It can be said that since the independence of the country, so much controversy & political strategy has never been noticed during the presidential elections in India.

First of all, the major constituent of UPA, Congress Party had to face difficulty in finding a candidate, whose candidature could win the consent of the other constituents of the ruling UPA. There couldn't become a common consent of the constituent parties of UPA on the names of senior leaders like Pranab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil, Arjun Singh and Karan Singh. So Congress has to select a weak but faithful candidate by saying that it wants to see a woman in the highest office that is as a President & that will be for the first time in India. A natural question arises that if UPA really wanted a woman in this office then the names of the big leaders, Pranab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil, Arjun Singh & Karan Singh wouldn't have come in the controversy. A name of a woman leader from the group of two or three women leaders could have been taken. So the argument of making the first woman President appears to be a decision taken under some compulsion. Undoubtedly, all these thoughts have lead to a possibility for the country to have a woman President.

Fingers have come out to be raised on the name of Pratibha Patil. To help his brother in a murder case & other irregularities have come out to disagree & defame her. The first woman that may sit in the highest office of the country is being accused of encouraging superstitions. But UPA has called all this propaganda by the opposition whereas the main opposition party Bhartiya Janta Party has brought Bhairon Singh Shekhawat forward as an independent candidate. This has been done to have the favour of the third front. Undoubtedly Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who is at present, the Vice President of India, is a man who has more experience than Pratibha Patil. Besides having an experience as chief minister of Rajasthan he has served in the offices of the organization & government. As he had been a worker of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh, so he knew it well that the third front will not come in his favour. That's why, instead of declaring himself as a candidate from the Bhartiya Janta Party, he thought it proper to declare himself as an independent candidate.

Whereas the political parties & the constituents are playing their games in the present presidential elections, a regional party in Maharashtra that has good impression in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has astonished its traditional ally Bhartiya Janta Party by saying that it would favour the Congress Party candidate Pratibha Patil. The basis of this favour by Shiv Sena is that Pratibha Patil belongs to Maharashtra & is a daughter of a Maratha family. Before that Shiv Sena chief has once said of favouring Sharad Pawar, a leader of Nationalist Congress Party, for Prime Minister's Office only because of the fact that Sharad Pawar is a Maratha leader who belongs to Maharashtra. It is the first narrow step taken by Shiv Sena during the Presidential election in India when it is favouring a candidate of the party UPA that has quite opposite thoughts. It is on the basis of regionalism. It is well known that Shiv Sena is famous for its Maratha love. Even the party never hesitates to spit poison against the Non-Marathas. It is not a good thought in the favour of the unity and integrity of the country.

There was also a good discussion & struggle among the political parties on the name of Bharat Rattan Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. In the previous months, many surveys were undertaken by the survey agencies in India. Those surveys clearly revealed that APJ Abdul Kalam is the first preference of the Indians for the President. At such occasion, no party had the courage to reject the name 'Kalam.' But during his term, President Kalam showed his firm attitude towards the unacceptable issues of the parliament. Probably for this reason, the big political parties were not in favour of making him President for the second time. But Kalam had already refused to contest for the Presidential election. It is true that he agreed to contest on the condition of a common consent on his name & if his victory was confirmed. President Kalam expressed his desire to go to his favourite profession of teaching & not to contest the election for the President.

During my campaign to make Kalam, again, the President, I met many members of the Parliament & begged their favour for it. During this mission I met senior Members of Parliament, Vijay Darda of Maharashtra & Dr. Thokchom Meinya of Manipur and requested them to make efforts that Congress Party should propose the name of APJ Abdul Kalam for the office of the President. On this issue they told me that they have personally visited Mr. Kalam on this issue and Kalam is not desirous of contesting elections again. It seems that his unwillingness of Kalam gave an excuse to Congress for selecting a loyal candidate instead of searching an able candidate. The name Pratibha Patil came forward as a name that fulfilled the conditions of ability because of loyalty.

Anyhow, there is a strong possibility that India, for the first time, will have a woman President. But as it is being propagated that this step is being taken for the advancement of the woman & to being them at equality with men, so it should be hoped that the long waiting bill for the reservation for the woman is brought in the first session of the Parliament. Not only this, it should be passed in the both houses of the Parliament. If UPA does it, then its claim for the advancement of women by making a woman, President of India, would be considered true. Otherwise the candidature of Pratibha Patil would be considered merely a decision taken under some compulsion by UPA.

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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.






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