The Art of Impossible

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What makes this year's presidential election so special? Mud slinging? Dirty politics? The first woman president? BJP led National Democratic alliance was giving evidence against Pratibha Patil and Congres led United Progressive alliance was giving evidence against Bhairaon Singh Shekhawat. More over United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) played a dirty politics by pulling in Dr. Kalam's name for the presidential race. The dirty politics in presidential elections was not new but Political "Pandits" say this time it reached heights! 1967 presidential election (Zhakir Hussain Vs Subba Rao) and 1969 presidential election (Neelam Sanjeev Reddy Vs V.V.Giri) were controversial enough to draw the attention of the entire nation (please remember, it was Madam Gandhi's era of Indian Politics).

Well, the importance of Presidential post was realized only when president Fakruddin Ali Ahmad allowed Madam Gandhi to rule by decree once the emergency rule was proclaimed in 1975. There was no law and order problem in the nation, there was no cabinet approval for the emergency, there was no external aggression, there was absolutely no report from the home ministry regarding the necessity of emergency. Yet Madam Gandhi managed to proclaimed emergency on the grounds that there was "internal disturbance" in the nation! (On June 12, 1975 the High Court of Allahabad declared Madam Gandhi'selection invalid on the grounds of corrupt practices in an election petition filed by Raj Narain, opposition was pressurizing madam Gandhi to resign and Ms Gandhi wanted extraordinary powers to suppress the opposition. To her, proclaiming emergency was the only way). She proved that Presidential powers can be used as "Rubber Stamp" if the President is loyal to the ruling party! Thanks to 44th Constitutional amendment by Morarji Desai govt which replaced the words "internal disturbance" by "armed rebellion" which ensured that such autocratic attitude will never appear again. In the era of coalition governments, the discretionary powers granted to the president by the constitution can play a crucial role. Keeping 2009 general elections in mind, UPA's decision to have a president "who is a woman and loyal" to the congress party could be very handy. What a far sighted thinking! What a way to balance left front! Who knows Ms. Sonia Gandhi could become future "Madam Gandhi"! Congress has a long history of choosing "Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist" presidential candidates. Whether it is, Neelam Sanjeev Reddy in 1969, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad in 1974(president during emergency ), Giani Zail Singh in 1982(president during infamous 'Operation Blue Star'). Today, no wonder, Congress has repeated the history by choosing Pratibha Patil as its candidate.

Don't you think Dr. Kalam also gave a conflicting decision? In December 2006, Dr. Kalam said he will not contest the next presidential election, but when UNPA persuaded Dr. Kalam, he said he will contest election if there is a "consensus", meaning if he is going to win! How can political parties ensure 100% win in a "Secret Ballot, Indirect election"? More over India has developed a "Political convention" of not having "successive second" term for the president. Former prime minister Vajpayee had rejected congress party's earlier request to have Dr. K. R. Narayanan for the second term, saying that Indian democracy has developed a convention of not having second term for the president. But this time, Neither NDA made the request for Dr. Kalam's second term nor congress accepted the public opinion. "Political Conventions" in India are largely respected across the world. But today, the political convention of "not having successive second term for the president" has disappointed billion hearts.

Every "patriotic" Indian citizen wanted Dr. Kalam to have the second term. If at all there was a "Direct Election" to the presidential post, no doubt, Dr. Kalam would have won the race! Millions of volunteers had campaigned for second term of Dr. Kalam. In fact some "ignited minds" had created a website for "Getting Kalam Back" (http://www.getkalamback.com/). But India headed towards getting the first woman president. Ms. Pratibha Patil was a consensus candidate but not the natural choice and she went on to become "Maharashtrapati" as described by cartoonist Surendra (of The Hindu)! This year's presidential elections definitely taught a lesson to the citizen that "Politics is the Art of Impossible!"

What kind of president we could have had? If we needed a woman president there were other better icons like Ila Ben Bhat (a Gandhian), Brinda Karat, If we needed an expert like Dr. Kalam, we had Dr. Amartya Sen, Narayan Murthy!, If we needed an expert "clean" politician we had Jyoti Basu, If we needed a diplomat and bureaucrat we had Gopal krishan Gandhi. Do we need a woman president to silence feminists? do we need a Dalit president to silence Dalits? Do we need a Muslim president to silence minorities? Absolutely not! The highest post of the land is not for "dirty politics". Politics makes everything possible. Ms. Jayalalitha said "Politics is the art of impossible, I have a vision for India, that to see India as super power in my life time" (in an interview with Times Now, "Frankly speaking with Arnab"). Vision for India? is that not a brain child of Dr. Kalam's ideas? Dr.Kalam was the person who dared to dream, who gave a road map to make India, a developed nation by 2020. We need a president like Dr. Kalam who gave the ideas like PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas), we need a visionary who can take us towards transforming India into a "poverty free zone", we need a dreamer who can rely on technology to change the lives around, we need a man who's very name inspires millions! But never, never, never a "Rubber Stamp".

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.