Tag: Indian Elections

Presidential candidates

On 12/6/2012 Election Commission announced the dates for presidential election. Strange are the ways of Election Commission. They announce elections for Legislative Assemblies six months before the expiry of the term and club various state elections together though announcement before 40 days is enough and clubbing elections together is not necessary and right. In case of presidential election the law provides for announcement 60 days before the expiry of the term and Election Commission announced the dates 43 days before the expiry of the term. Soon there will be vacancy of vice president but Election Commission has not clubbed together elections of president and vice president. S. Y. Qureshi was CEC when 60 days were left i.e., on 25/5/2012. He should have announced the election but did not do so and retired on 10/6/2012. Perhaps he was waiting for Congress to announce its candidate. On 11/6/2012 V. S. Sampath became CEC and next day at 5.30 p.m. he announced the election.

Events moved fast soon afterwards. Mamata Banerjee came to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi. TV channels speculated that Mamata will propose the names of Gopal Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and Meira Kumar to Sonia. After the meeting she said Sonia Gandhi’s first choice for president is Pranab Mukherjee, second choice is Hamid Ansari. Then she went to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam had said he did not want a bureaucrat as a president. It was presumed that both will agree to Pranab Mukherjee.

The press conference that followed shocked and surprised people. Mamata and Mulayam did not agree to Sonia’s candidates. They wanted Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee. Soon conspiracy theories floated. Jayanto Ghosal of Anand Bazar Patrika group said it was planned by Sonia. She did not want Pranab as president but did not want to say no. She used Mamata and Mulayam to do that.

Mamata was not in favour of Pranab. When people spoke of Pranab as son of Bengal she said he was the son of the world.

There was speculation over why the three names were proposed. Somnath Chatterjee’s name was proposed because he was a Bengali. While Mamata did not want Pranab she was not opposed to a Bengali becoming president and Somnath’s name was a balancing act. Some said real name is Manmohan Singh, other two are dummies. Sonia wants Manmohan to become president so that she can have a new prime minister.

On 14/6/2012 Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi said “We cannot afford to spare Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The other two names are not acceptable. During UPA II, we have already said he will remain Prime Minister till 2014. The Congress does not take such a step in between.”

In the evening Mamata met Mulayam. She announced Abdul Kalam is “our candidate”. Mulayam was not with her. She said she will not take part in UPA meeting on 15/6/2012. There were reports that Abdul Kalam was Mamata’s candidate, SP had not taken a decision.

Subramanian Swamy claimed he and Jaswant Singh had worked for Abdul Kalam’s candidature. They had got support for him from BJP and SP. Jaswant Singh had met Mulayam and the impression was that he wanted Mulayam’s support to become vice president. There was talk of DMK supporting Kalam because he is a Tamilian but that did not happen.

On 15/6/2012 UPA met at 4 p.m. at 7 Race Course Road. All parties agreed on Pranab Mukherjee as candidate. Sonia Gandhi announced his candidature and appealed to all parties to support him. Soon SP announced support to Pranab. Mulayam did two somersaults within 48 hours. First he ditched Congress. Then he supported Congress. He said in politics decisions change as per situation. The three names were suggestions.

NDA and Left Front have to decide about the candidates. If BJP decides to support Pranab it is an embarrassment to Sushma Swaraj. Gurudas Dasgupta had said CPI will not support Congress candidate.

Purno Albert Sangma had announced his candidature in the middle of May, backed by AIADMK and BJD. Sangma presented himself as a tribal candidate. There had been Muslim, Sikh, Dalit and woman presidents and it was time for a tribal president. His supporters added that he is a Christian and from North East. In 1992 George Gilbert Swell was a candidate. He was a tribal, a Christian and from North East. Like Sangma he was from Meghalaya. That time Sangma did not support him. NCP does not want Sangma to contest and may expel him if he does.

Abdul Kalam had said he would contest if he was sure of winning. He wanted unanimity or consensus or at least 60% of votes. JD(U) was not in favour of him. It is unlikely he will contest. It is wrong for Congress to appeal to Abdul Kalam not to contest. Kalam can also ask Pranab not to contest.

Mamata is isolated. She did not get her package for Bengal. UPA rejected her nominees. Pranab is candidate. She said the game is not over yet. Today is the beginning. Wait for tomorrow.

Pranab’s candidature saw many ups and downs during the last two months. Some said he was too valuable for Congress to lose. The counter to that if he is so valuable he should be prime minister. During CWC meeting he moved resolution authorizing Congress president to decide about president and vice president and some thought it was over for him. Suddenly some remembered Congress tradition was to promote its vice presidents as presidents. They forgot Hamid Ansari was a Left Front nominee. When Mamata and Mulayam vetoed him name it appeared it was all over for him. But he had supporters in many parties and won the nomination.

There is time till 30/6/2012 for nominations. More candidates can emerge.

President of India

Election for the President of India is due within a few months. There is a possibility that UPA government may fall and Lok Sabha be dissolved. The election will be valid even if Lok Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies are dissolved and only elected members of Rajya Sabha vote in the election. Nominated members of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies do not have the right to vote in presidential election.

Modesty forbids me from mentioning the best person who should become the President. I will mention some good and better persons.

IAC has members like Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Shanti Bhushan who can be candidates. If Shazia Ilmi, Gaurav Bakshi and Abhinandan Sekhri are 35 they can be candidates.

Dinesh Trivedi puts country first, family second and the rest, next. He can be a candidate.

Arnab Goswami will make the contest for presidency interesting.

Among sportspersons there are Ajit Pal Singh, Ashok Kumar, Ashish Ballal, Merwyn Fernandes, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Michael Ferreira, Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj and Vishwanathan Anand.

Married women who, other things being equal, have retained their maiden surnames after marriage make good candidates for president.

The list of who should not become President includes Hamid Ansari, Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram and Sheila Dikshit.

The constitution prescribes that to be President the person has to be a citizen of India, completed the age of 35 years, qualified for election as member of Lok Sabha and should not hold any office of profit. I prescribe additional qualifications which also should apply to MPs, MLAs, MLCs, members of district councils, urban, rural and other local bodies.

1) Should not be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

2) Should not have committed adultery.

3) Should not have had sex with man, woman or beast against the order of nature.

4) Should not have committed abduction, character assassination, hijacking, kidnapping, murder, piracy, rape or such high crime.

5) Should not be a person who opposes death penalty for murder, attempted murder abduction, character assassination, hijacking, kidnapping, piracy and such high crimes.

6) Should not be an alcoholic, drunkard, gambler, smoker or drug addict.

7) Should not have had sex with a prostitute, call girl or gigolo.

8) Should not have had pre-marital sex. (Marital sex does not become pre-marital sex if a married person becomes single and marries again.)

9) Should not have had extra-marital sex.

10) Should not have had more than one spouse at a time.

11) Should not have married a married person knowingly.

12) Should not have lied under oath in court.

13) Should not have taken bribe.

14) Should not be corrupt.

15) Should not have bought or sold charas, cocaine, ganja, heroin, marijuana, opium, LSD or such material.

16) Should not be a manufacturer or producer, dealer, dealer, distributor, advertiser, model, stockist or transporter of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products such as beedis, cheeruts, cigars, cigarettes, hookahs etc.

17) Should not be a lawyer who has defended murderers, rapists, molesters and such criminals.

18) Should not have leaked question papers of CAT, CET, JEE and such tests.

19) Should not have committed any crime or crimes whose punishment singly or separately exceeds two years.

20) Should not be a pan eater.

21) Should not be involved in spot-fixing or match-fixing.

22) Should not have undergone artificial sex change.

23) Should not be a defaulter of loan or a partner of a firm or director of a company that has defaulted on loan or asked for corporate debt restructuring.

24) Should not be a hacker of computer.

25) Should not have planted virus, worm or Trojan horse in computer.

26) Should not be a plagiarist.

27) Should not be an astrologer, black magician, numerologist, palmist, sorcerer, tarot card reader or witch.

28) Should not be the owner or a partner of a firm or director of a company or editor or printer or publisher of newspaper or magazine that publishes astrological columns.

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Fight against corruption must continue

India Against Corruption seems to have lost direction and momentum in fight against corruption. IAC wanted a Lokpal Bill. That did not happen. They wanted right to reject and right to recall. Both are unlikely to happen soon. Anna Hazare seems unable or unwilling to lead the agitation. Other members should resume the fight against corruption.

IAC members need not go on indefinite fast. They can go on chain hunger strike. Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan can fast for some hours every day. Then Shazia Ilmi, Gaurav Bakshi and Manish Sisodia can take their turn. Then some other people fast. Every day the cycle is repeated. The fight for Lokpal should be separate from fight for Lokayuktas.

Elections are said to be major reason for corruption. That is partly true. Many people who don’t fight elections are also corrupt. In India elections take place throughout the year in some part or other. IAC must fight for a single election day once in five years. Elections to all Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly, Zilla Parishad, municipality, panchayat and other local body constituencies should be held on a single day. That will reduce corruption. A candidate should be allowed to contest from one constituency only.

IAC should fight for presidential system. Parliamentary democracy has failed. Coalition compulsions result in wrong people being ministers. Even when there is single party government in states there is dissidence. Someone who is not chief minister tries to become chief minister. President should be elected by MPs and MLAs. Vice President should be elected by MPs. Governors should be elected by MLAs. Direct election to President, Vice President and Governors are expensive.

IAC should fight for an easy process to remove corrupt judges, bureaucrats and other officials.

IAC should fight against corporate debt restructuring. Corporates who have borrowed must pay the debt as per the conditions on which they borrowed. Properties of defaulters should be attached. List of borrowers and defaulters should be public.

IAC should fight for abolition of Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils. Parties sell Rajya Sabha seats.

IAC should not worry about not being representative of OBCs, Muslims, SCs, STs and so on. Those who talk of such things have lost elections.

Fight against corruption demands fight for a new constitution. IAC should draft a new constitution. Supreme Court judges should be appointed by President after approval by Parliament. High Court judges should be appointed by Governor after approval by Legislative Assembly. Let not IAC worry about self-styled followers of Ambedkar protesting against new constitution. Those followers do not have much following. Ambedkar did not write the constitution. He was the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution. The followers of Ambedkar have not protested when the constitution has been amended around hundred times.