Who will be the next President?
Well the easier question to answer is who won’t be the next President, as many names have been suggested and have peaked too soon. Such as Sumitra Mahajan, the Lok Sabha Speaker (for the Prime Minister wants continuity in the House), or even if sources are to be believed, Draupadi Murmu, the Governor of Jharkhand. But for the most part, it’s all in the realm of speculation as the only two who do know the answer, are not talking. Both PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah would clearly have not left such an important decision to the last minute. That’s how realpolitik is played.
The Opposition’s Choice
The Congress is now claiming that contrary to media reports, it has not floated Meira Kumar’s name as its candidate for the next President. There is a reason for this rush to clarify. Because the CPM has made it clear that regardless of whom the government proposes, it will—on principle—not support a BJP suggested candidate. (If you recall, the Left had not supported NDA’s Abdul Kalam either and had propped Captain Sehgal against him in 2002). The Left is also clear that its candidate of choice is not a Congress member, but Gopalkrishna Gandhi. “We want to make it a Gandhi vs Saffron contest,” says a Left MP. Well, in that case, the Congress, which is so keen on putting up a united Opposition front against the government, will probably have to support Gandhi as well.
The RSS’ Choice
The RSS has apparently given the BJP three choices for its candidate as President. The three names are Sushma Swaraj, Ram Naik or a tribal or a Dalit steeped in RSS ideology. BJP sources feel that the PM could pick the third option. And if it’s a Dalit from Maharashtra, then the Shiv Sena will have no problem staying on board, for the ally has made its preference clear for a Maharashtrian candidate—even if the Opposition props one, it would vote for that person. Well, the name will be out this week as the PM would like to have the issue resolved before he leaves for his US trip on 24 June. And as a footnote, when pondering over the names, one should recall the words of a political analyst who said, “Modiji siraf unko banayenge jinko woh Mahamahim keh sake (The PM will only appoint that person whom he can address with respect).”