The Indian Opposition’s Presidential Dilemma!
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who leads the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) first suggested the name of former President APJ Abdul Kalam for the Presidential Elections of India to be held on July 19, 2012. They made a tactical blunder by neither consulting the NDA partners nor asking Kalam for his willingness or consent. The move thus got nipped in the bud as most political parties remained shut.
As the name of Pranab Mukherjee, the present Finance Minister, came up a consensus seemed to be building up slowly, because no party could really object to his candidature. The gradual build-up was brought down abruptly by Mamata Banerji’s bombshell! She managed to team up with a tricky Mulayam Singh Yadav and offered three names including Kalam and even the serving Prime Minister of India. The BJP or the NDA did not react immediately to Kalam’s candidature as they must have been assessing the larger political opportunities that could come out of this most bizarre turn. They made one more tactical blunder.
The Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA-2), the ruling coalition of India, took just two days of brainstorming to deliver a masterstroke by officially declaring the name of Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate. Mulayam Singh Yadav forgot Mamata suddenly and offered support as a faithful ally. Mamata got totally isolated and turned to Facebook for solac! Several other opposition political parties also offered support for Pranab.
Meanwhile, PA Sangma had continued to be the only self-declared candidate officially in the race. He was the co-founder of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)—an important constituent of the UPA-2 and a traditional ally of the Congress. The NCP first requested and then started issuing stern warnings to Sangma to withdraw from the race or face expulsion from the party. The NCP had already declared its support for the UPA-2 consensus candidate. Sangma somehow hoped to get the full support of the NDA and therefore continued to be in the race justifying his commitment towards the Indian tribal population of more than 10 million. He even approached Mamata for support and got rebuffed soundly.Continued on the next page