President’s poll may lead to realignment
The Presidential poll next month is being seen in political circles as an occasion which could lead to realignment of forces cutting across party and alliance formations. Even though the Congress and the UPA along with its supporting parties have strong numbers on paper to get their common nominee elected to the august post, the outcome will depend on who will be their nominee. In other words, the Congress, which leads this formation, is not necessarily in the position to get whoever it wants as the next president in the manner it had done in 2007. A lot of things have changed and the theoretical position may alter once real politik comes into play. The Congress leadership in 2007 as in 2004 and 2009 had the confidence and the strength to push for a candidate of its choice. But in the altered situation, particularly after the March Assembly polls outcome, the leadership stands somewhat eroded.
Therefore, the Congress high command has to take a pragmatic view to ensure that it does not falter on the choice of the nominee no matter what the temptations. A lot depends on the result of this Presidential poll and if the Congress falters, its government at the Centre could be in deep trouble. A lot of political pundits are likening the current scenario to 1969 when the party lost to a breakaway group led by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who succeeded in getting her nominee V.V.Giri elected at the expense of the Congress nominee Sanjiva Reddy. In the times we live in there is no one like Indira Gandhi who is at the helm of affairs and the complexion of Parliament and state assemblies is such that the official nominee of the UPA unless he/she is acceptable across the political spectrum may find it hard to get elected.
The Congress is also facing prospects of a revolt from within particularly in Andhra Pradesh where young Jaganmohan Reddy who is behind bars is challenging the establishment and the Congress leadership. In case, his nominees sweep the Andhra bye-election on June 15 when the results come out, political equations may undergo a huge change. In fact, Andhra Pradesh, the strongest Congress state may start slipping out from the party’s hands. There is also a lot of dissatisfaction in Uttarakhand and a revolt can be sparked by a small provocation. Things in Himachal, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have to be watched very closely. In short, Congress has to ensure that its own flock remains intact in order to prove its adversaries and critics wrong.
There are many analysts who feel that former Speaker P.A.Sangma is a very strong candidate who could muster the support of several segments of political class if the Congress fails to put up an acceptable nominee, someone whose stature and winnability is in doubt. Sangma’s claim as the challenger could be strengthened in case the Congress and UPA nominee lacks caliber and political backing from large sections.
It is widely believed that if the Congress and the BJP were to reach an understanding, the solution for the next President and Vice President could become far easier and the regional parties and players may then be relegated to a smaller role. One does not see this happening and even the BJP like the Congress is not presenting itself as a very cohesive unit.
The interesting aspect of this poll is that the regional parties and their chieftains firmly believe that they would be playing a larger role in national politics after the next Lok Sabha poll. Therefore they must play a more pro active part in getting the next President elected since he/she will be the one who will take the call on whom to invite following the next Parliamentary poll.
There are many ifs and buts in the entire race and one person who has to rise to the occasion once again to sort things out is the Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She must listen to her own inner voice and use her judgement. Otherwise the election to the post of the Head of State, which will be held through a secret ballot, can go against her and her party. The stakes are very high and she cannot afford to make any mistake.