That we all refer to it as a race is telling. The Race for President, we say. With Pratibha Patil’s term coming to a close in July, it seems as if everyone and his aunt must now air an opinion on who should take over as the thirteenth President of our nation.
The Congress and BJP have, naturally, picked their favourites. They have asked allies and smaller parties to do all they can to help bring these preferred nominees to that coveted, if nominal, seat of power.
A few weeks ago, rumours of former President APJ Abdul Kalam being offered the post made him a trending topic on Twitter — proof of the immense popularity he continues to enjoy, in stark contrast to the controversy-ridden tenure of the current President.
The rumours died quickly though, as everyone from current Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to former Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Infosys founder Narayan Murthy to Union Minister Farooq Abdullah was held up as a potential candidate.
For the people of India, a President represents so much more than just a figurehead who addresses the nation on Republic Day. We want a President we can be proud of, one who acts as our country’s most eligible ambassador on a global platform. The President’s political affiliations are, for a majority of us, inconsequential in the face of this larger role. Our leaders don’t seem to understand this though.
The past couple of weeks have shown that politicians across party lines don’t particularly care about who occupies this august position, one bound so intrinsically to India’s pride as a sovereign republic. All that matters is the supposed affiliation to a political party. It’s always politics first; the people can wait.