10 Mar, 2012, 12.41PM IST, TNN
Spadework starts for next presidential polls; minority or dalit
nominee may be put up
NEW DELHI: With it becoming clear than no one political formation can
dictate the next presidential poll, sounding out exercises have begun.
The presidential election is still some time away as it is due only in
July, but the long political season has begun with the conclusion of a
significant round of assembly polls. The stunning victory of the
Samajwadi Party in UP and the NDA wins in Punjab and Goa have only
heightened the fractured nature of the political scenario in the
states and the Centre.
With the next president needing the support of political coalitions,
the networking has begun as the possibility of a minority or dalit
candidate who would enjoy backing across partylines is being actively
discussed. This has seen non-Congress and non-BJP CMs being sounded
There are indications that sympathizers of vice-president Hamid Ansari
are linked to the subedars who will corner a large chunk of the
electoral college, although Ansari lost the goodwill of a significant
section of the Opposition after his conduct as the chairman of Rajya
Sabha during the tussle over the Lokpal bill.
His supporters feel that he could still be an attractive proposition
for the secular bloc outside Congress. He may also find Congress's
favour. Ansari's name has been doing the rounds for a while now.
It is not clear whether Ansari authorized any such outreach, but the
possibility of a Muslim candidate has gained ground in the light of
the ascendance of leaders like SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and West
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Both can be expected to be key players in
the presidential election.
The government is aware that it cannot have the sole say in the next
president and can hope that the vice-president will be an acceptable
figure with even BJP finding it hard to oppose him beyond a point.
There are other names in circulation as well such as power minister
Sushil Kumar Shinde and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. But their
candidatures have not proceeded beyond speculation.
In 2007, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's name had found the
support of the Left and the leader himself was not averse to moving to
the Rashtrapati Bhawan. But Congress did not find the proposal worth
considering as Mukherjee was firmly established as a key
trouble-shooter for the ruling coalition.
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