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Countdown Begins For Electing India's Next President

NEW DELHI: Now that the election to the highest constitutional office of President will be held on July 17, the million Dollar question is who will be the ruling BJP's nominee. There is no doubt the choice will be that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
A month back speculation was rife about moving harkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu to Rashtrapati Bhawan. If that happens she will be first tribal and that too a woman from backward Odisha to replace the 13th President Pranab Mukherjee who retires next month on July 25. Murmu is 52-years-old and has a clean image as a politician. 
The Lotus party would not like to let go this great opportunity to have its own President. The BJP-led NDA is capable of easily making up the shortfall and rummaging a clear majority in the electoral college. It is widely believed that the choice of President should be in national interest along with enhancing the country's image. This assumes importance as the saffron brigade's recent appointments like that of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh does not invoke the requisite confidence. 
Intellectuals feel it might be too much to expect the BJP and its mentor, the RSS. to pick a Presidential nominee who will not hesitate to speak out along with preserving and protecting the Constitution. 
It may recalled that the outgoing Head of State Pranab Mukherjee prided himself on being a "copy book" President and remained committed to preserving and protecting the Constitution. 
Though the real power vests in the Prime Minister, the President's job is anything but ornamental. He/She is a bridge between the people and the Centre. The Head of State has ample discretionary powers to caution and warn the government, if needed. 
In the event of a hung Parliament, it becomes incumbent on the President to decide which party will form the government. There can be other embarrassing moments for the government of the day like returning the cabinet recommendation for imposing central rule in a state or having strong reservations in signing an Ordinance. 
With its runaway win in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh recently, the NDA is short of the magic figure by only 18,000 votes. It has already received a shot in the arm with the YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy announcing his support for the NDA nominee. The Telengana Rashtra Samiti has also decided to vote with the BJP. 
If both the factions of the AIADMK with nearly 59,000 votes also backs the NDA, a win is certain by a comfortable margin. The Biju Janata Dal too might not be opposed to voting the NDA nominee although the BJP has emerged as its main rival in Odisha relegating the Congress to the background. 
With the opposition trying to make its presence felt, it is apparent they are woefully short of the critical arithmetic and have to remain content with a token fight. Their talk of having a consensus candidate is bound to be rejected by the BJP. 
Congress president has nominated NCP chief and Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar to strive for a consensus candidate. It might, however, turn out to be an exercise in futility. 
Presidential elections in this country have been predictable. The upcoming one does not appear to be any different with the opposition putting up a symbolic fight for all practical intents and purposes. 
At the same time the ruling party should take care not to scare away the parties supporting it by projecting a polarising candidate. Therefore, much will revolve around BJP's choice of its nominee. There have been instances when allies have switched sides to vote for or against a particular candidate. 
Regional considerations have weighed with some parties as evidenced in 2007 when the Shiv Sena voted for the UPA nominee Pratibha Patil against Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the candidate fielded by its ally, the BJP. 
It may be recalled that the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal are peeved with the BJP but require strong reasons for breaking ranks. As of now the BJP's Presidential nominee is a sure shot winner barring the imponderables.  

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