The vote for choosing the President of India was cast by the Members of the Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Assemblies of Union Territories on Thursday. The votes are to be counted on Sunday, July 22, but even before counting, numbers favor Ex-Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a big way.
The race has been on for the past couple of monthsto elect the 13th President of India, or the 16th person to adorn the chair of the first citizen (including the acting Presidents).. While the ruling UPA Government was in discussions to bring out a suitable candidate, things got heated up when the former Speaker of the LokSabha and former Chief Minister of Meghalaya, P A Sangma mooted the need for someone belonging to a tribal community to become the President of India.
P A Sangma, who is also the co-founder of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was supported by BJP and AIADMK in his quest to become the President. Meanwhile UPA ally Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banarjee exposed signs of dissent within the ruling coalition by picking names, including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself as candidates to become the President. The list also included the former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former LokSabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav supported the list.
P A Sangma
Finally, UPA announced its then Finance Minister and one of the most popular and powerful political figures, Pranab Mukherjee as its presidential candidate. Kalam bowed out of the race in respect to Pranab Mukherjee and both the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party eventually had to assent to the ruling coalition’s decision.
The bringing of someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee into the
presidential race was a tactical move, which showed results as all the
major and minor parties having representatives in the Parliament or the
State Assemblies showed their support for the veteran. The estranged P A
Sangma was left with pretty much only the support of BJP and was even
ousted from his own party due to strong objections from Sharad Pawar.
Pranab Mukherjee is expected to take in more than 70% of the votes from
776 MPs and 4120 Assembly Members. And if everything goes as predicted,
then Pranab Mukherjee will be walking into the Rashtrapathi Bhavan as
the 13th President of India, on July 25, which would also see the end of
the five year term of the first woman president of India in Pratibha
The position of President in Indian politics has more to do with
prestige than power. But the President does gain pivotal powers to steer
the political scene of the country in times of a crisis, like when no
single party wins a total majority to rule the nation, after elections.
The upcoming general election in 2014 expects no single party to rise
to power and the Congress led by Sonia Gandhi, with Rahul Gandhi waiting
to take a 'more prominent role in the Government', wants to have
everything on its side when the time arrives to form the next ruling
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