Let the best man be President
The UPA cannot afford to lose the Presidential election due in July. The government at the Centre wouldn’t last if the combine fails to send its candidate to the high office.
Among the names in circulation are those of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, vice president Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and Union minister Kishore Chandra Deo. The last mentioned is a tribal from Andhra. His name is flaunted to counter PA Sangma’s tribal pitch for the Presidency.
Denied backing by his own party, the NCP, the former speaker has been lobbying for his candidature with various parties. This type of canvassing for the highest constitutional office hasn’t been seen before, barring perhaps the time when TN Seshan entered the fray and lost. That was in 1997 when KR Narayanan was elected President.
Sangma’s street-smart approach is in contrast with APJ Abdul Kalam’s 2007 refusal to be a candidate for the second term without a consensus on his name. He clearly didn’t want an incumbent president demitting office upon defeat.
Campaigning in any presidential election must befit the dignity of the high office. Political parties must rise above partisan considerations — that doesn’t normally happen — to give the country the Head of State it deserves.
No matter who’s elected, the process shouldn’t ensnare the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the kind of controversy triggered by Pratibha Patil’s candidature five years ago.
Regardless of who makes the grade, the history of 2007 shouldn’t repeat. All five aspirants including Sangma are eminently suited for the job. Mukherjee’s considered a shade better for his vast experience in public life.
This doesn’t mean the suave and erudite Ansari, a former diplomat who has been vice chancellor of AMU and chairman of the National Commission of Minorities, wouldn’t make a good president. In fact, anybody who gets the UPA’s collective nod is likely to sail through.
Mukherjee’s qualification for the top job is at once his disqualification, given the Congress’s near total dependence on him in running the coalition. So will the man best suited to be PM be denied the presidency he so richly deserves? Your guess is as good as mine.