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