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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Indian Presidential Elections-2012: The Race Turns Acrimonious!


Campaigning for the 14th Presidential Elections-2012 started in full swing from June 30, 2012 after the two contesting candidates filed their nominations on 28th June. While the citizens of India hoped for a dignified contest things threatened to take an acrimonious turn due to allegations and elements of desperation.
PA Sangma, the self-styled candidate initially proposed by a regional party of the eastern state of Odisha and ultimately supported by the national opposition party, was seemingly desperate to reach the Raisina Hill (the Presidential palace or Rashtrapati Bhavan is located in this area) playing on his tribal card and on the first ever tribal president of the country phenomenon stoutly. On July 2 his desperation became vocal as he chose to attack Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate supported by the ruling alliance and most other major political parties. .
Sangma demanded Mukherjee’s candidature be cancelled as Mukherjee was ineligible for the contest by allegedly holding on to an office of profit on the date of his filing nominations. Mukherjee was the Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata. His poll managers immediately pointed out that Mukherjee resigned from the post on June 20 and that the office was also an honorary one, and that the concerned documents were already submitted.   On July3, on the basis of those documents the returning officer rejected Sangma’s claims and confirmed the existence of the two candidates for the elections on. Things did not end there though.
Sangma, now backed by his national ally, went on to allege that the documents were forged and asked the returning officer as to how he rejected the claims. As it was becoming increasingly acrimonious the Election Commission decided to ask the returning officer to show the documents. Alleging further that the papers were prepared in the last minute to save Mukherjee’s nomination PA Sangma and his political sponsors had kept even the option of approaching the courts open.
Pranab Mukherjee and his political sponsors dismissed the allegations as ‘frivolous’ and went ahead with the scheduled campaigning. Mukherjee asserted that the papers were signed by him only and that he failed to understand how he could forge his own signatures!
Earlier during initial stages of campaigning PA Sangma also threw a challenge of having an open debate with Pranab Mukherjee, maybe in the spirit of the US Presidential Poll unfolding in this same year. But as any intelligent reader would understand the citizens of India do not participate directly in electing their President like in the US. And, therefore, the challenge was dismissed as ‘meaningless’. Interestingly, another campaign has been going on to fathom Indian support for President Obama, and, a majority of Indians turn out in favor of Obama’s reelection. Why not, President Obama vibrates very well with a whole lot of Indians!
Meanwhile, the inimitable Mamata Bannerji announced that her party would declare their preferred candidate only 72 hours before the poll on July 19! Apart from creating suspense for all concerned this move also put the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), the main constituent of the Indian Left alliance, in some spot of trouble. The CPM justified its support for Mukherjee by saying that it did not want to end up in the same side with Mamata’s party. Now, if Mamata decides to reunite with the ruling coalition and support Mukherjee, the CPM though belonging to the same state of West Bengal would find it quite embarrassing.
The ironies involved in this Presidential Elections get a little more acute with the Chief Minister of Meghalaya opposing Sangma’s candidature. Both of them belong to the same North Eastern state and to the same tribe.
Seemingly, this contest is never going to ease up till the climax on July 22!
As per latest reports Sangma's sponsor, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to file an election petition against Pranab Mikherjee with the Election Commission of India. The Congress responded to the move by terming it as 'childish tricks'!

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