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A googly for the president

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IBN Live starts this story with a word which is not seen very often any longer:

In a political googly, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh on Wednesday proposed three new names for President: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former president APJ Abdul Kalam.

While Kalam and Chatterjee were expected choices, suggesting Singh’s name appears to be a direct challenge to the Congress. It remains to be seen how the Congress responds to these suggestions. What is clear is that the political game over the choice of President has clearly become more complex.

The Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party, both crucial regional players, with these nominations indicated that they are aligned on the Presidential election issue.

Banerjee appealed to all to think about the names proposed by her and Mulayam unanimously and decide. “Presidential candidate should be chosen by consensus. There is no priority. There are no priorities in these names, let the political parties decide,” added Banerjee.

Proposing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name seems just like a diversionary tactic by Banerjee and Mulayam at the moment and will the Congress reject all three names proposed by them is to be seen now.

Now this whole story of how the Congress is unable to push its own presidential candidate also underlines why the president may play a politically important role after the next general election. Of course, it also explains why Standard and Poor is downgrading India.

June 16, 2012

Since the center is unlikely to hold after the next general elections, the choice of the president is crucial, says Reuters in its report on the Congress nominee:

By all accounts, Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi does not trust the man she nominated on Friday to become the next president of India, Pranab Mukherjee. But with her party facing tough elections due by 2014 he may be her ace in the hole.

Until now, India’s president has been viewed as a ceremonial head of state. But with the next elections widely expected to produce a fragmented parliament with no clear winner, Mukherjee, a loyal Congress man, will play a key role in deciding which party takes the lead in forming a new government.

Perhaps more importantly, Mukherjee, 76, now finance minister, could help the Gandhi family keep its grip on power. Sonia’s son, Rahul, is a leading contender to become prime minister in any new Congress-led coalition. As president, Mukherjee would have a say in who gets that job.

Mukherjee was nominated by the Congress party in the face of opposition from a key ally within the ruling coalition. The party, however, won support from other coalition partners for its choice and appeared confident that Mukherjee would win the electoral college vote on July 19.

Analysts say Mukherjee could play an influential role in steering the country through potentially one of the most politically turbulent periods in modern Indian history.

With neither of the two main parties — Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party — expected to win convincing majorities in 2014, a fragile coalition that includes several regional parties could emerge to claim power.

In that scenario, Mukherjee, famed for his political acumen, could as president exercise more authority, taking advantage of a vaguely worded constitution.

The analysts must be right; Mamata Banerjee is now in the political wilderness. A politician like her will then try to open a new channel to voters, reports TOI

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee debuted on Facebook on Saturday renewing her call for APJ Kalam as President, and saying that whatever else she had to say on the subject would be updated on the internet social network site.

“I have already put across my viewpoints in Facebook. Whatever I have to say, I will say on Facebook”, Banerjee said before leaving the state secretariat unfazed by her isolation after the Congress-led UPA yesterday named Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential nominee.

Banerjee, who had told reporters last night that “the game is not over. It has just begun” and she would speak her mind on the presidential elections today, said “I wont say anything today. Tomorrow is Sunday. I don’t know … on Monday … we will see then…”

NDTV could also have used the word googly in this report:

BJP leader Ram Jethmalani has launched himself in the race to the Raisina Hill. Opposing Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature, Mr Jethmalani told NDTV that he will not let Mr Mukherjee become the President unopposed.

“I might lose, but will still contest Presidential poll. Pranab is a friend, but I oppose his candidature… He hasn’t revealed names of black money holders,” said Mr Jethmalani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, the BJP core group met this evening to decide its strategy before it consults with its allies on whether to support Mr Mukherjee or get into a contest for the president’s post. The BJP-led alliance has so far followed a wait-and-watch policy, but a decision is expected after a key meeting of the allies tomorrow.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

June 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

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