Resident of the Rashtrapati Bhavan

ImageMaking of a president, 2012

Last week it was an interesting interaction with Retd. Major General Vinod Saigal of the Indian army. A well-known author and commentator on South Asian Politics. Was in town for the release of his latest book revitalising the Indian democracy.

He really made us think in terms of our political responsibilities,

Since Fakhruddin Ali the Indian citizen seems like an astronaut viewing the presidential elections from the moon.

Not only has the Presidential election become a political pawning, the president himself/herself has become a rubber stamp.

Actually the contrary to the belief of the common man, the President of the country has a great role to play than decorating the rashtrapathi bhavan.

The only exception seems to be Dr.Kalam. The only time he played a rubber stamp was dissolution of the Bihar assembly which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The President wields enormous discretionary powers areas that have been left undefined. Yet time and again the Presidents have reduced themselves to rubber stamps.

  • Zail Singh conveniently deferred the controversial postal bill till it lapsed.
  • Zail Singh again refrained from addressing the corruption issue of the Rajiv Gandhi govt. including the bofors issues.
  • Zail Singh rejected the petition of Rajinder Puri (ref.Sunday Statesman 4.03.2012) where a prima facie case did exist against Rajiv Gandhi. This would have handled the corruption issues right before it blew up to this magnitude.
  • Pratibha Patil is so subservient to the people who got her the office that now they do not need to fear the President or the capacity of the President to dissolve the assembly.
  • President Narayanan who insisted that a Dalit be appointed to the highest court installed Mr.Balakrishnan who is currently under investigation for irregularities’.

The political parties are now bringing in the issue of religion into the highest office.

The procedure is such that the parliament sends its recommendation to the president who appends his signature and sends it back. There are is no time frame for it. That was how Zail Singh and weaker subservient presidents could be ineffective.

Usually when the central govt. Is strong the president goes by their opinion but when the govt. Is weak if the president is of high calibre he can keep the government on tenterhooks.

The President need not bow down to the government opinion he can always ask for a judicial opinion or for the constitutional bench.

The President is responsible for the clearance for the name of a governor placed before him.

The President plays an important role if the parliament is hung.  It is entirely up to the President to allocate the time available to the leader so asked to prove his/her majority on the from anywhere between 48hrs to more.

The President is the commander-in-chief and the supreme head of the army.

The President has various options to consider when the law and order situation breaks up. But we sovereign republic of India is so sycophant we stand by as mute spectators.

The selectors cabal for the presidential election.

  • Ruling party not more than half a dozen people call the shots all vying for with each to show their loyalty to the dynasty and rewarded accordingly. The Prime minister has been debased, so has power of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.  The concerns for national interest or dignity of the highest office was never a consideration.
  • The UPA the governing coalition goes with the ruling congress provided that the spoils are shared.
  • Left parties, the principle wreckers’ of UPA who have undermined the govt. Consensus on every major issue the decision-making cabal here is less than six people.
  • The principal opposition part, was trying to foist a person most suited to their ideology the cabal is fossilized senior citizens selecting more senior citizens.
  • Leader of BS more interested in the spoils, and will agree with congress leadership if the befits are mutual.
  • Others, calling themselves the third front less said the better.

Common political scenario

  1. Zero inner party democracy or consultation with rank and file.
  2. People who are given them the mandate are disregarded.

That is to say we the people of India apparently of the largest democracy in the world play no role in the selection process of our president. To get biblical “go ye and carry a message far and wide that the election of the next president must take into account the desire of the people of the country.”

We citizens need to take the following actions immediately.

  • Media high lighting the possibilities open to public through public pressure on each one of the legislators having an Electoral College vote.
  • Flooding the print media with letter to the editor
  • Indicating their preferences to the electronic media every day at every opportunity.
  • NGA’S ex-servicemen leagues schools, colleges, IIMs, IITS and all other bodies and institutes of similar nature to hold public meetings and pass resolutions.
  • Eminent citizens groups to personally approach and persuade some of the respected names to enter themselves as candidates of people’s choice.
  • Regional chambers of commerce, CII FICCI ASSOCHAM to take lead.

To create momentum for democratic fulfilment.

Interaction with Vinod Saighal, retd. Major General of Indian Army. Author of books on Indian Politics.

South Asia Politics.

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