Oppn fear: Will BJP run away with Prez poll victory?

The Presidential race is slowly heating up with the Opposition creating a buzz about a common candidate but CPI(M) fears that the ruling BJP will run away with the cake if it manages to align with a non-NDA party.

Though they are ready for a fight on the President’s seat, the opposition however harbours no hopes for the election to Vice President’s post as the BJP-led NDA has a clear majority in the electoral college.

The calculations in the opposition camp is that the BJP-led NDA would need another 2% votes to cross the Presidential hurdle and that is why it wants all non-NDA parties to be together.

If one goes by the past experience, there is no guarantee that the opposition remain on a single string. In 2002 election, opposition was divided and CPI(M) fielded INA veteran Captain Laxmi against the eventual winner A P J Abdul Kalam. In 2012, Shiv Sena broke ranks with the then opposition leader BJP to support Pranab Mukherjee against P A Sangma.

This fear was expressed candidly by CPI(M) top leadership during the Central Committee (CC) meeting here last week when it pointed out the BJP-led NDA needs just 2% more votes to emerge winner.

“Currently, in the electoral college that elects the President of India, the BJP with its NDA allies is marginally short of around 2% of the votes. Any understanding with any non-NDA regional party by the BJP will easily ensure the victory of its candidate as the President,” the Report on Political Developments adopted by the CC meeting held on April 18 and 19.

It points to the fear of a Sangh Parivar nominee entering the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the report said, “we should make all efforts to try and forge unity of all secular parties in this effort to ensure a non-RSS President of the Indian Republic.”

The prescription by the CPI(M) is that the united opposition find a non-political figure for the post. “The forthcoming elections to the post of President of India should be utilized by us to try and find a common candidate preferably belonging to no political party around whom the opposition parties can rally around,” the report said.

However, sources said, the party is open to support a political heavyweight like Sharad Yadav or Sharad Pawar in case the opposition rallies around such names. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury already had first round of deliberations with Congress President Sonia Gandhi last week.

The electoral college for the Presidential polls include MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and MLAs of state Assemblies. At present, BJP-led NDA has around 48% of the votes.

However, the Left party has left the Vice Presidential polls out of its ambit, saying, the electoral college for the Vice President of India is limited to only members of both houses of parliament where NDA allies has a “clear” advantage. “There is thus little scope for seeking to find a consensus candidate for the post of Vice President,” the report said.

Asked about the deliberations on Presidential polls in July, Yechury had told reporters after the CC meeting that his party was for a common Opposition candidate for the post. “Secular supervision is very important for Rashtrapati Bhavan as opposed to communal supervision. We are for a consensual candidate acceptable to all,” he had said.

(Apr 25, 2017)

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