PA Sangma’s resignation from the NCP is perhaps the surest sign that there will be contest in Presidential election and a challenger to Pranab Mukherjee. But beyond this there may not much political significance attached to it because Sangma’s resignation is a reflection of his own excessive exuberance to become an also ran for the Presidential election.
The numbers are stacked in favour of the UPA. Sangma being a relative lightweight doesn’t have a profile big enough to move the needle and steal votes from the UPA and its allies. Even assuming the BJP and most of the other constituents of the NDA back Sangma’s candidature, he isn’t exactly their best choice of candidate. He is not a game changer like APJ Abdul Kalam, who enjoys immense popularity among people and most political parties.
Beyond pushing Sangma’s identity as a representative of the tribal community, neither he nor his supporters has not so far made a persuasive case to say the he will contest on a campaign platform based on principles.
Nevertheless the fact that there will be a contest is significant at one level. Firstpost has argued in the past that it is important for the NDA to contest the election and not give Pranab Mukherjee a walkover. Why? Because it is important to open Mukherjee’s record in office and subject it to scrutiny.
It is also important to make it a issue based contest by asking Mukherjee to clarify his position on constitutional test points such as the role of the president when there is a hung Parliament and the circumstances under which civil liberties may be suspended. Given that Pranab-da’s political failure goes all the way back to the time when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency with the President signing the decree, its very relevant question for him.
Ram Jethmalani, who also considered contesting the presidential poll if the BJP did not nominate a candidate, made pretty much the same point.
So the fact that there will be almost certainly a contest is significant, but the debate now should be framed to focus attention on Mukherjee’s record.
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