13TH PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA
New Delhi, July 2012 Klaus Julian Voll and Kamakshi Nanda.1
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Dr. Klaus Julian Voll advises FEPS on Asia and Kamakshi Nanda is a historian and political analyst. FEPS Rue Montoyer 40 B-1000 Brussels +32 2 234 69 00 | www.feps-europe.eu
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The 2012 Presidential Elections - outline
Candidate profiles Pranab Mukherjee P.A. Sangma
Role and powers of the President:
THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
The party of the ‘Aam admi’ (Common man), Congress, fielded a Bengali Brahmin, Pranab Mukherjee, as President. The son of a freedom fighter against British colonialism has served the Congress for more than four decades in various ministerial positions. His opponent, P. A. Sangma, a Christian “tribal”2, hails from the state of Meghalaya. The former Labour Minister was supported by the Opposition National Democratic Alliance, and the ruling regional parties Biju Janata Dal from Orissa and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam from Tamil Nadu, on the grounds of being the leader of the Tribal Forum. 22nd July 2012 decided the faith of these two ex-Congressmen. Both through their grit and ambition charted out their lives outside the villages they were born in. Their political journey started in rural constituencies of their home states. Their meteoric rise thereafter inspires awe in many. Disillusionment rankled both politicians, thus leading them to exit the party that was instrumental in getting India its independence. It is here that the similarities between the two men end. The older, Pranab Mukherjee3, was brought back to the folds of his parent party by P.V. Narasimha Rao, India’s Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996, and became a Union Cabinet Minister with portfolios like Foreign Affairs, Defence and Finance. Whereas the younger, P. A. Sangma4, in 1998, had a permanent divorce from the Congress on the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins and her attempts to becoming Prime Minister. He formed the Nationalist Congress Party, together with the current Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, and never again occupied the post of the Cabinet Minister. Mukherjee’s name in the United Progressive Alliance-II became synonymous with a “troubleshooter”, handling difficult coalition partners and their demands. In certain cases he even acted as a “de facto Prime Minister” taking tough decisions on domestic policy issues and headed a variety of committees of ministers. Rumours in the Indian capital at times hinted at Mukherjee’s own Prime Ministerial ambitions. Although Sonia Gandhi ‘’abdicated” in favour of the soft spoken and Oxford educated Dr. Manmohan Singh, voices have been clamouring for the younger Gandhi to take on a more relevant role in the Congress. A stoic old Congress strongman who stood in the way of Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime
P. A. Sangma belongs to the Garo community in the North-Eastern state of Meghalaya, which is matri-lineal and where children bear the name of the wife . The youngest daughter is inheriting. “Tribals”, classified as Schdeduled Tribes (ST’s), are part of the so-called “Adivasis” (Original Inhabitants) in India with a population of about 100 millions. 3 4
See his comprehensive profile attached. See his comprehensive profile attached.
Minister was “Mr. Dependable” – Mukherjee. However the chance to be the first citizen of India was an offer difficult to refuse. ********************************* Mukherjee emerged in the presidential race as a clear winner and was declared the 13th President of the Indian Union and successor to India’s first female President Pratibha Patil. Mukherjee received a total of 3,095 votes (valued 713,763 votes) 5 or 69%, while his only opponent, P. A....
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