All the Presidential men

July 3rd, 2012

The recently concluded, bitterly-fought Republican race for US Presidential nomination had a conscience that wasn’t to be seen at the one that just happened in our backyard. Yes, there were recriminations and some insanely dirty linen was washed in the public but there were some serious debates that took place too. I know that I’m comparing apples and oranges.

But my point is that why make brouhaha and feel slighted (cue Mamata Banerjee) over a post that is merely a five-year paid holiday for people in the twilight years? How does it matter who takes it up? Unless the post has more teeth it will continue to be the political equivalent of a trophy wife. Apart from giving the pre-Republic Day and Independence Day speeches, awarding the prizes prefixed with a Padma, the President is usually seen taking a stroll in the Mughal Gardens or on a junket to an exotic country.

Let the President’s rule in a state continue for at least six months. Let not the political parties browbeat the President into accepting their diktats (recall the Kalam-Bihar controversy). It was amusing to see that every bits and pieces politician found his/her 15 seconds of fame by waxing eloquent/stern about the Presidential candidates. Somnath Chatterjee was bemused when his name was floated around. The closed room discussions and intense secrecy over such a simple issue drove me to the wall. The finger-wagging news anchor was shrill in his blanket assumption that “India needs to know”.

What India really needs to know is that when will the reforms happen or when will the rupee scale back a little bit. India should hardly care about a post that is the last relic of its British past. It’s not that this election is anything as monumental as the 2008 US election: black man versus first woman. Can we even dream of a President aged in 50-55 range?

At least Pranab Mukherjee (unless Sangma pulls off a Houdini, which looks highly unlikely) might lend some authority to the seemingly figurehead position after his predecessor’s insipid five years. I might be missing the woods for the trees but so are the politicians and, in the latter situation, which was to be seen in the Ambedkar cartoon issue as well, bodes tremendous ill for the country.

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