Alva should have been Prez candidate

Rama Krishna Sangem

Margaret Alva should have been the Opposition’s candidate for the post of President, instead of Vice President. Now that the polling for the post Presidential election is over, we can assess the strategy of the opposition camp, for the two Constitutional posts – President and Vice President. Going by the polling trends, it is clear that Droupadi Murmu, Presidential candidate of BJP is certain to win. The question is only about her majority.

First of all, Opposition’s strategy was handled entirely by Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and to some extent by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Largest opposition party Congress has become a mute participant. It’s representatives like Mallikarjuna Kharge and Jairam Ramesh looked like CPI’s D Raja and CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechuri – without much to say. In a way, Mamata has hijacked the strategy business of the opposition camp.

Still she hasn’t done justice to the job. First she came up with three names – Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi – for the president post. They all turned down the offer. Later she proposed her own party national vice president – Yashwant Sinha.  He has accepted the offer. BJP has come up with Droupadi Murmu, who caught the imagination of the entire nation – for being the first Tribal woman.

As Murmu started getting endorsement from different parties outside NDA, Mamata asked Sinha not to come to Kolkata as it would antagonize tribal population in Bengal. That is a strategic mistake, which robbed off the sheen of Sinha campaign. Or rather exposed the lack of consistency of Mamata’s political stand. She wants to lead the opposition camp, yet abandons her responsibility. Primarily she wants to belittle Congress.

Then, the VP election. BJP came up with Jagdeep Dhankar‘s candidature. Opposition leaders met at Pawar’s residence in Delhi and finalized Margaret Alva‘s name for the post. Mamata abstained from the meeting. Maybe for two reasons – first she knows well that Alva would not win in view of BJP’s comfortable numbers in Parliament whose members vote for the VP post. Second reason, Alva is a Congress leader and Mamata doesn’t like it.

Mamata will announce her stand on VP post on July 21, the day of counting of votes for President election. This has certainly dampened the mood of the opposition camp. Now 80 year old veteran Alva is sure to lose the VP post. Had Mamata not rushed others to accept Sinha as President candidate, the opposition would have pitted Alva against Droupadi Murmu.

That would have been a fight between equals (if not exactly). Both are women, both worked as governors  and one represents tribal and another Christian minority. Alva would have got a decent support from across the opposition camp. BJP would have struggled hard to win the poll, unlike now. But, thanks to Mamata’s over enthusiasm, the president contest has become one sided.

On the other hand, Yashwant Sinha would have been an ideal candidate for the post of VP. Both Dhankar and Sinha were together when Chandrasekhar became PM, with the outside support of Rajiv Gandhi led Congress. Both Dhankar and Sinha were instrumental in the downfall of VP Singh government 1990 and were ministers in the Chandrasekhar government. 

That way, they would have been equals in the contest for the VP post. Old Janata Dal camp-fellows like BJD’s Naveen Patnaik among others would have backed Sinha over Dhankar. After all, Sinha was senior to Dhankar in those days. If Sinha joined BJP, Dhankar joined Congress. Now, ironically, Sinha is backed by Congress, while Dhankar is the candidate of BJP. Thanks to lack of a solid strategy, the Opposition camp has failed before the ruling BJP.



Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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