The haranguing and the intense backroom operations evident in the run-up to the Presidential election, if one may call it that, are in preparation for the 2014 general elections which the UPA at the Centre would in all probability be losing miserably. And that has added so much fervour and lobbying for the top post and a pliable President might have to clinch the deal for the Congress then. When BJP announced its support for PA Sangma, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha and former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member, the ground rules were drawn and it was clear that the Congress would not have a walkover.
At the end of it all, Congress is busy trying to woo Mamata Banerjee, the mercuric chief minister of West Bengal, as she steadfastly remained anti-Pranab Mukherjee in spite of all the machinisation by the Congress.
Even the one-day team with Mulayam Singh Yadav in their support for former President APJ Abdul Kalam was short-lived even as Congress tightened the screws on Mulayam Singh who has been involved in nearly half a dozen cases with CBI. If Mayawati has also joined the UPA’s party the reasons are not far to find. Jaganmohan Reddy who is now embroiled in a series of CBI cases for unaccounted wealth in Andhra Pradesh is a case in point. Similar or worse cases of unaccounted wealth have been registered against Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav, all of who are conveniently either sympathisers of UPA or partners in the alliance. But the only difference between these political stalwarts and Jaganmohan Reddy is that the latter refused to play ball with Congress.
That being the way Congress has managed support from its allies and non-allies, the party thinks that the election of Pranab Mukherjee to the President’s office is a foregone conclusion. It is credit worthy that even if Mulayam Sngh Yadav changed his stance to suit Congress’ game, Mamata Banerjee stuck to her gun. She has flatly refused to support Pranab Mukherjee at least till now, in spite of his Bengali origins. It is in the light of these developments of blackballing support for the Congress candidate that the BJP’s choice of supporting PA Sangma looks like a God-sent relief.
What most political analysts overlook is the fact that there is still some hope that the Presidential race cannot be a foregone conclusion. If UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has been making such a valiant effort to garner political support for Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the President’s post and if Mamata Banerjee has openly said that there is so much of money and blackmail involved, the constitutional mandate of “secret ballot” which permits MPs and MLAs to defy their party line and resort to conscience vote can queer the Congress’ pitch. The party whip might simply not work if the Opposition is able to push the envelope and lobby hard for PA Sangma.
The President and Vice-President of the country just as the Members of Council of States (Rajya Sabha) are elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as mandated in Articles 55(3), 66(1) and 80(4) of the Constitution, respectively. Even if the corridors of power in Delhi are riff with rumours of money exchanging hands, theories of the beneficiaries of the Presidential election are also abound.
PA Sangma’s campaign for President’s post has been supported by AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa from the beginning which took a turn when Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy met him to pledge support for his candidature. Sangma resigned from NCP soon after and the support for him has been growing since. Now it is only to be seen if the politics of money power, blackmail and insidious campaign gain an upper hand against democratic principles.