Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Consensus and democracy

It is time for Presidential election and some people talk of consensus. Democracy is about elections. There is no place for consensus in a democracy.
BJP and Congress have not declared their candidates. BJP candidate can be anybody from Amit Shah Draupadi Murmu to Kalyan Singh to Mohan Bhagwat to Nitin Gadkari to Ram Naik to Sumitra Mahajan to Sushma Swaraj. I don’t expect Lal Krishna Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi or Parkash Singh Badal to be BJP candidate. Congress candidate is likely to be Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee is said to be opposed to Meira Kumar. Sharad Pawar has refused to contest. It seems Congress wanted Pranab Mukherjee to contest but he refused.
BJP leads NDA. Congress leads a coalition of like-minded parties. All opposition parties are not with Congress. AAP, AIADMK, BJD, TRS and YSR Congress are not with Congress. YSR Congress leader Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy is enemy of Sonia Gandhi for not allowing him to become Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister after his father’s death and later for putting him in jail. He has declared support to BJP candidate.
There was a time when any Indian citizen who is 35 years old and is qualified to become Member of Parliament could contest to become President. Changes were made to law to prevent frivolous candidates from contesting. Now it is not possible to contest without the support of 100 electors.
Some say the office of the President should be by consensus and above contest. They are wrong. The Constitution provides for election and it should be election.
Congress and allies could have declared their candidate but they claim in favour of consensus and want BJP to mention their candidate. BJP President Amit Shah appointed a committee comprising Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, and Venkaiah Naidu. These members have not come up with any name. They are in touch with opposition leaders. BJP also wants to show they are in favour of consensus. There is no need for such farce. Narendra Modi has decided on the name and it will be revealed in due course.
The office of President has been contested since 1952 and only in 1977 was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was unopposed him because 36 other candidates were disqualified. In 1997 there was an attempt to get K. R. Narayanan elected unopposed. T. N. Seshan got the support of Shiv Sena and contested. In 2002 BJP, Congress and many other parties agreed on A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Left Front put up Lakshmi Sahgal as candidate.
Indian political parties do not have internal democracy. There are no primaries for selection of candidates. High command decides. Consensus disappoints losers and leads to splits. Parties multiply.

Updated: June 17, 2017 — 7:46 am

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