Once again, the Shiv Sena has thrown a googly on the Presidential election. They suggested the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat as a candidate for the President of India. The party have a stand that since India is known as a Hindu country, Bhagwat is the best choice for the President of this country. Amusingly, senior BJP leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani and External Affairs’ Minister Sushma Swaraj’s names are being discussed as the BJP’s Presidential candidates. Sena, however, seems to be more inclined towards Bhagwat. They think that the Mohan Bhagwat is a suitable candidate for the president. He is the real face of RSS. After Hedgewar and Golwalkar, Bhagwat is doing hard work towards forming a united Hindu country. Earlier, Shiv Sena had supported Advani for this post. Considering that Advani shares a very good rapport with Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, the party have dragged Mohan Bhagwat’s name in the race as its last chance to bargain with BJP. There are many suggestions and speculations including Sharad Pawar as one of the contender but an exciting thing is that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently said that Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj are also good choice for Presidentship.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure ends in July 2017 and the next president will take charge from July onwards. Shiv Sena has 21 MPs and 63 MLAs from the state of Maharashtra, all of which takes the total value of votes at 25,893. This makes Sena’s vote important in the election of the next president. In the last two Presidential elections, Shiv Sena voted for a Congress candidate. Former president Pratibha Patil and President Pranab Mukherjee won the presidential election after Shiv Sena’s support. Though Pratibha Patil avoided visiting Matoshree, Pranab Mukherjee had visited Matoshree and met Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. So, this is the third time that the Sena is talking against the BJP in the presidential election.
The BJP’s gains in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly polls where they won more than 65,000 votes value has improved its chances, but the party is still short of 20,000 votes for President election. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has 20,000 votes but the party is angry against Governor C Vidyasagar Rao for delaying the oath-taking ceremony of its chief minister candidate Sasikala all of which gives Shiv Sena a chance to bargain with Modi. BJP MLAs have often stressed in party meetings that the party should rethink its ties with Sena. So, the next three months are crucial for the Sena and BJP alliance in Centre as well as in Maharashtra. Both parties’ relations have worsened after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation poll in February this year. There is also pressure from MLAs from both the parties to break up post alliance with each other. So, this is the last chance for Sena to get one cabinet and one MoS minister in the Centre and an important portfolio in Maharashtra too.
The president is elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of parliament, the elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the 29 states and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry. As of 2017, the electoral college comprises 776 MPs and 4120 MLAs. The total strength of electoral college is 10, 98,882 votes. Halfway mark is 5,49,442 votes. After winning the UP Assembly elections, NDA is short of only 24,552 votes.
The nomination of a candidate for election to the office of the President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote method. The voting takes place by a secret ballot. The manner of election of President is provided by Article 55 of the Constitution.
The RSS thinks that its “ideological core” has not been diluted like other BJP leaders’, the obvious example being L K Advani. The RSS also feels that Murli Manohar Joshi has been exceptionally disciplined – first giving up his constituency for Narendra Modi and never complaining about being forced into retirement. Sangh sources point to Advani and Yashwant Singh’s public tantrums and self-indulgent statements. Joshi, who was accused of “saffronising” education during his tenure, wears it as a badge of honour just as it is for the RSS. Unlike Advani, who is loathed both by the RSS and Modi, if Joshi is made presidential candidate, it would galvanise the cadre and ensure that more of the faithful flock to the RSS.
The RSS would also not mind the perceived snub to Advani – it will ensure that even the tallest of leaders never rebel against the mothership again. Unlike with Advani, Modi actually does not have a strained relationship with Joshi – he was the “sarthi” of Joshi’s ekta yatra. And, the two have a very clear-cut, take-no-prisoners approach to ideology in common. Joshi was a three-term MP from Allahabad, before he was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections of May, 2004. He won election to the 15th Lok Sabha from Varanasi as a BJP candidate. Currently he is the MP from Kanpur. He was the HRD Minister in Vajpayee government from 1999 to 2004.
Advani’s name as most likely candidate for the post of Presidency, but it’s very much doubtful to see Narendra Modi will give Advani, his former mentor and present bête noire a chance to topple him from his hard-earned position of Prime Ministership. Therefore, Advani’s name can be safely ruled out. There were also rumours about N.R. Narayan Murthy and Ratan Tata been seriously discussed? Given Ratan Tata’s current predicament his name can be safely struck out. That leaves N.R. Narayana Murthy who brings immense value and respectability to the office to be the solitary player in the field. Given Modi’s penchant for optics; it is safe to assume Murthy will be our next President.
If Mohan Bhagwat is made a choice then there is nothing to say. After working underground during the Emergency, Bhagwat became ‘Pracharak’ of Akola in Maharashtra in 1977 and rose within the organization responsible for Nagpur and Vidarbha regions. He became ‘Akhil Bharatiya Sharirik Pramukh,’ (in-charge of physical training) for India from 1991 to 1999. He was further promoted as ‘Akhil Bharatiya Pracharak Pramukh,’ (in-charge of RSS volunteers working full-time for India). In 2000, when Rajendra Singh (RSS) and H. V. Sheshadri decided to step down as RSS Chief and General Secretary respectively due to poor health, K. S. Sudarshan was nominated as the new chief and Mohan Bhagwat became ‘Sarkaryavaha,’ (General Secretary). Mohan Bhagwat was chosen as the Sarsanghchalak (Chief Executive) of the RSS on 21st March, 2009. He is one of the youngest leaders to head the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after Dr. K. B. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar. In June 2015, the government of India ordered the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to provide round-the-clock protection to RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. At Z+ VVIP security cover, Bhagwat is one of the most protected Indians today.
As we all know, Modi has surprised people by giving a saffronised CM to Uttar Pradesh, it might India next.
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