The In­dian pres­i­den­tial elec­tions have cre­ated a pow­er­ful re-shuf­fle in the coun­try’s mo­not­o­nous po­lit­i­cal setup.

Southasia - - Contents - By Sun­darara­jan Mu­rari

Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions change the

game in In­dia

Se­nior Congress leader and for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Pranab Mukher­jee has re­cently be­come the 14th Pres­i­dent of In­dia, trounc­ing his ri­val and for­mer Lok Sabha Speaker, Pruno Sangma in an elec­tion that has led to a division of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, left, right and cen­tre.

Mukher­jee se­cured 70 per­cent of the ten lakh votes of the elec­toral col­lege, com­pris­ing mem­bers of the Par­lia­ment and State leg­is­la­tures. The main Op­po­si­tion, BJP and its Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance mem­ber, Akali Dal, as well as re­gional par­ties like the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal, backed Sangma mainly be­cause they did not to want to give Congress a walkover.

On the other hand, Mukher­jee had the sup­port of the con­stituents of the rul­ing United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance (UPA-II), in­clud­ing the re­luc­tant Tri­namool Congress chief and West Ben­gal Chief Min­is­ter, Ma­mata Banerjee as well as that of Mu­layam Singh (Sa­ma­jwadi Party of Ut­tar Pradesh) and the Bahuguna Sa­maj Party of the Dal­its. Both the Sa­ma­jwadi Party and the Bahuguna Sa­maj Party have been giv­ing out­side sup­port to the UPA-II gov­ern­ment. As a bonus, Mukher­jee got sup­port from the Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena, both con­stituents of the NDA. He also split the left front with the CPM and the For­ward Bloc while the CPI and the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary So­cial Party de­cided to ab­stain. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Tel­ugu De­sam and the Te­lan­gana Praja Samiti also ab­stained.

Al­though Mukher­jee scored a ma­jor vic­tory, the Congress Cen­tre was im­me­di­ately plunged into yet an­other cri­sis caused by the res­ig­na­tion of two trusted and se­nior Min­is­ters, Sharad Pawar and Pra­ful Pa­tel. In light of re­cent developments, Prime Min­is­ter Singh and Congress pres­i­dent So­nia Gandhi sorely miss Mukher­jee who had gained a rep­u­ta­tion as a sea­soned trou­ble-shooter, aid­ing a party un­com­fort­able with work­ing in a coali­tion yet pow­er­fully sur­viv­ing against all odds for the past eight years.

Pawar has voiced dis­con­tent over the ap­point­ment of De­fense Min­is­ter, A. K. Antony as the Num­ber 2 in the Cab­i­net. Pawar who, be­cause of se­nior­ity, used to sit next to Mukher­jee in all Cab­i­net meet­ings, boy­cotted the meet­ing held on the eve of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. He also met with Prime Min­is­ter Singh and UPA chair­per­son So­nia Gandhi and com­plained about the Congress tak­ing de­ci­sions on pol­icy mat­ters with­out con­sult­ing al­lies.

Pawar has re­mained Congress’ trusted ally for eight years, yet the

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