Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Race to Raisina Hills

MPs and MLAs in India will be electing the 15th President of the Union of India on July 18 which will be contested between NDA consensus candidate Droupadi Murmu(64), former Jharkhand Governor and opposition consensus candidate and bureaucrat-turned-politician and former minister Yashwant Sinha(84). Both presidential candidates are in sharp contrast with each other. While Yashwant Sinha is a liberal, media savvy and well versed in political and economic affairs, Draupadi on the other hand is a low profile politician and working away from the glare of media attention. Yashwant Sinha has had stints as union finance minister in 1990 as Janata Dal member under Janata Dal government of prime minister Chandra Shekhar, then joined BJP and appointed as finance minister under in 1998 under Atal Behari Vajpayee and later minister of external affairs during 2002-04 under Vajpayee. Sinha quit the BJP in 2018. His son Jayant Sinha is BJP MP and served a junior minister of finance and civil aviation under the Modi government from 2014 and also 2016.Yashwant joined the TMC in 2021 and was appointed TMC national vice president. While Sinha got the prod from TMC and the nod from Congress as the opposition consensus candidate, Draupadi who has had no stint in the union ministry but became the first governor of Jharkhand to complete the five year term, and the first person, belonging to a scheduled tribe, to be nominated to the post of President of India. Draupadi was hand picked by the BJP to be the NDA consensus candidate. June 29 is the last date for candidates to file papers. Voting is scheduled for July 18 and counting on July 21. Based on the current arithmetic, NDA is around 13,000 votes short and support from either BJD, which has over 31,000 votes in the electoral college, or YSRCP (over 43,000 votes) will ensure smooth sailing for the BJP-led alliance. NDA is estimated to have 5.26 lakh votes out of a possible 10.79 lakh in the electoral college, comprising elected members of the Lok Sabha, and the state legislatures. The numbers could change after the ongoing Rajya Sabha polls, but probably not enough to change the big picture. The YSRCP and BJD, the two regional parties have maintained a low profile but both went with BJP in backing Ramnath Kovind in 2017. There has been a tug-of-war among the opposition parties with regional parties such as TMC, TRS and AAP insisting on a non-Congress joint front against BJP. While the opposition parties continue to be at loggerhead, the BJP-led NDA has been working overtime not only to ensure the victory of the NDA candidate in the presidential polls but also weaning over regional parties in the run up to the assembly elections in 2023 before the big fight in 2024. The current anti-Agnipath nationwide protests is a potent issue against the BJP-led NDA government but opposition disunity may have taken the wind out of the sails. Though it is a foregone conclusion that the NDA candidate will win the July 18 fight, yet it is imperative for the Opposition to put up a valiant fight , in order to regain some semblance of credibility. Failure to do so would put the BJP firmly in pole position for the 2024 battle.

Most Read