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Keep it elevated

Editorial | New Delhi |

The formal action has yet to begin, the countdown to the election of the next President has started ticking. The NDA seems to have met with success by roping in parties in Andhra and Telengana ~ possibly the AIADMK too, while there has been no dearth of consultations among Opposition groups to present a common candidate and hopefully push the contest down to the wire. Everyone emphasises that a consensus would be desirable, little more than lip-service appears to have been paid to that “cause”. The track-record confirms that there have been close contests in the past, what takes place a few weeks hence could be no different. What, however, does generate apprehensions is that the political divide has never been as pronounced as today, and that a bitter campaign could demean the high office.

True that there have often been strained relations between the President and the Prime Minister, yet the choice of someone deemed “unacceptable” to the Opposition could further complicate an already “delicate” situation. The innards of our democracy presently do not inspire confidence that the system will survive a “stand-off”. The outgoing President has not had a comfortable draw-down to his tenure, that does not augur well for his successor.

In an ideal situation it would be the task of the ruling party/combine to try and present a candidate whom the Opposition would have few reservations about, but since the process of consultation has yet to commence the time to forge a consensus could be running out. This triggers worries that the NDA does not see the election of the President very differently from the series of elections which it has won recently. True that the ruling entity would seek an ideological soul-mate for Rashtrapti Bhavan, yet the prospects of an RSS activist holding that office trouble the minority communities. For despite the lofty slogans, the Modi-Shah combine has a reputation of trampling over those who do not see eye-to-eye with them. Not that the Opposition’s conduct is pristine. Its leaders have made no secret of their deeming the Presidential poll a curtain-raiser to the next Lok Sabha election.

It is a pity that they have been dropping names, even when adding that the person would agree to contesting only if the choice was truly broad-based. Floating the idea of a second term for the incumbent is also fraught with more than pin-pricks. The larger picture being that the electors ~ MPs and MLAs ~ are too small-minded to select the right person for the onerous job. In that context it can only be hoped that the “debate” will not degenerate to the level of the last Lok Sabha, and recent Assembly polls. The Head of State merits more elevated consideration.