Vinod Mehta, the editorial chairman, Outlook, and its founding editor-in-chief writes in his column Delhi Dairy:
A Weighted Chair
So, what kind of a president does India want? The political class appears united in demanding a ‘political’ president. The consensus is that we live in tricky and complex constitutional times in which only someone who has lived through the dirt and partisanship of our system can operate. Alas, that is not what the country wants. Thus, once again, we’ve a disconnect between the rulers and the ruled.
Political presidents come in various shapes and sizes. From Zail Singh to Pratibha Patil, they have not left us with a record which can be described as exemplary. The idea of the scholar-intellectual has been quietly buried. The non-political presidents, from K.R. Narayanan to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, have emerged with some dignity. Lack of political experience was an asset, not a handicap, for them.
A loyal and obedient career politician is kicked upstairs as a reward for unwavering mediocrity. Such an appointee would be a misfit in the India of 2012. The anti-politician mood raging in the country would get a fillip if a safe, colourless choice is made. Of course, the poor aam admi has no option but to accept Pranab Mukherjee or Meira Kumar or Manmohan Singh since there’s nothing he or she can do about it. On the other hand, the elevation of an individual like Gopal Gandhi or S.Y. Qureshi or Hamid Ansari or Narayana Murthy would be loudly lauded. Such a person, besides carrying no party baggage, would bring a fresh mindset to the post. India wants a people’s president not a party hack. If there’s one career politician with the capacity to bring lustre to Rashtrapati Bhawan, it is the unavailable A. B. Vajpayee.
I’m sure mine is not a minority view, but I’d like to see an all-party convention to keep Rashtrapati Bhawan away from the politicians’ clutches. They have more than enough jobs to squabble over!
I got talking with a smart lady about the possibility of a so-called celeb being elected president. “As long as it is not Shobhaa De, I’ve no problem,” she said.
- Sunil Gavaskar’s dream at Rashtrapati Bhavan (indologygoa.wordpress.com)
- APJ Abdul Kalam (13.97 votes) is the consensus President of India (indologygoa.wordpress.com)