Her Excellency – Our next President

The long wait is over and it is now open!

No I’m not talking about Sivaji movie but about a much more serious and important matter: the Presidential Elections.

When the announcement was made, the first question that was on everybody’s minds was ‘Who’s this Pratibha Patil?’. The credit for bringing an almost anonymous person to the Nation’s highest office really goes to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party, the UPA Allies and the Leftists, in that order.

Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Pratibha Patil will be the next occupant of Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Although this discussion is purely academic, it is very relevant.

All of us know that the President is only an icon and a figurehead in our system. There are no major advantages for any particular sector by having their representative as the President. I cannot recall any significant benefits for the Sikhs during Giani Zail Singh’s term, to Tamils (and Brahmins) when R Venkataraman was the President, to Dalits whilst R Narayan’s tenure or to Muslims in the incumbent’s term. So to term Pratibha Patil’s candidature as a major victory for womanhood can at best be an election slogan.

Obviously, being a female candidate would have helped minimize the opposition from allies and the lefts, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. If we stretch our memory just five years back, the person who opposed Dr.Kalam was a lady by name Ms.Lakshmi Sahgal who served in Subash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army but that time the Congress party’s zeal for secularism outweighed their passion for equality of Women and hence it supported Dr.Kalam’s candidature. So it cannot be that the new found love for the fairer sex was the ultimate swinger in Ms.Patil’s favour.

Why did the power coterie suggest a relative non-entity (although she was a deputy chairperson in Rajya sabha a few years back, she was mostly confined to Maharashtra) as the Presidential candidate discounting a few heavyweights such as Shivraj Patil, Dr Karan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee? Ms.Patil is not a politician in the reckoning for otherwise she would not have taken a gubernatorial post in Rajasthan (Governors are normally politicians being given the kick upstairs) . So it is not about being a politician either.

That she stood by Ms.Indira Gandhi’s side post emergency is being cited as a factor for her candidature but I really doubt if that would make much difference in the current context almost 23 years after Ms.Gandhi’s assasination and 30 years after the Emergency!!

Going by the turn of events as reported by the media, Ms.Patil seems to be a compromise candidate that met with the least resistance from the UPA Allies and the Left. The above factors may have helped but there surely is something that I am not able to place my finger on, that would have got her onto the list in the first place.

When I read about Ms.Patil in wikipedia, I was astonished to find that she is a very accomplished person and has been elected to the Maharashtra Assembly continously for 23 years from 1962. She has served in the Maharashtra Cabinet under several Chief Ministers in a wide variety of portfolios such as Education, Tourism, Social Welfare and Housing. She was also elected to the Rajya Sabha and to the Lok Sabha. From her profile, she also appears to be a fairly rounded person having interests in business (founder and chairperson of a sugar factory in Jalgaon, Maharashtra) and sports (table tennis champion in college). She is a Post Graduate and a Lawyer by qualification.

Anyway, if Sonia Gandhi, purely by virtue of being the Rajiv’s wife (and no other qualification) is calling the shots in the country, then Pratibha Patil is certainly and eminently qualified to be the next President of India.

Please join me in welcoming the Next President!

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3 Comments

  1. June 26, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    […] 26th, 2007 at 2:44 pm (Prathibha Patil, Pratibha Patil, President) In my earlier post about the appointment of Ms.Pratibha Patil, I had made an assessment that she is a rounded person […]

  2. Amrita said,

    June 28, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Badri – you make some good points. But like I said, if only they’d gone for her qualifications for the post (which are pretty decent when you think about it) then we’d be having a completely different debate. Instead, what we have is one of the most politicised campaigns ever and she, poor thing, has to pay the price for it as is being seen now by all the allegations that are popping up. Because she is being portrayed as a convenient figure rather than a person, that is how she is being treated. She is still probably going to become the President but she’s going to do so under a cloud. And I dont know what the BJP thinks it is doing here – they dont want Shekhawat, they dont have anyone else, Kalam won’t run, so they’re muckraking the person who is practically guaranteed to become President thus antagonizing her. Who the hell maps their strategy?

  3. badrirag said,

    June 29, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Amrita,

    Really sad state of affairs!!!

    In this huge country of 100 crore people, there are only 3 people in the race for the highest office (albeit ceremonial) of the land! One is the incumbent (who has subsequently and fortunately refused to contest) , the other the current vice-president and third an almost anonymous person with questionable credentials.

    We thought only we mortals are procrastinating our decisions till it becomes inevitable like filing our tax returns, renewing our license etc. But as it has been pointed out in a few fora, every party knew that elections were coming but none bothered to start the preparations early on. This only shows that they do not consider the nation and the office as important at all.

    With such a attitude, this is bound to be the consequence.

    Badri


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