By Raza Elahi
After the hard-fought recently-concluded Assembly polls, which pushed the Congress in the back seat, another round of tough battles is in store for the party. Elections of President, Vice-President and 58 Rajya Sabha MPs are all lined up one after another, but the ruling party at the Centre is in no position to have its sole say.
Will the party be able to find consensus candidates for President and Vice-President posts, or will it concede defeat or will it have some facing solution?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN RS Polls?: Election for 59 RS seats that fall vacant in April is scheduled for March 20. The six-year tenure of Deputy Speaker in the House K Rahman Khan also comes to an end on April 2. Given the UPA’s numerical strength in the Rajya Sabha, where it finds itself in a minority, it is unlikely that the ruling coalition would be able to have its way, unless SP bails it out(among the seats falling vacant include 10 from UP).
A DALIT TO BE THE NEXT V-P?: While the vice-president Hamid Ansari’s five-year term is going to end in August (a month after the term of the President ends), his successor will depend on who becomes the President. If a Muslim becomes a President, then the V-P's post is likely to go to a Dalit or vice versa.
WHO'LL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT?: With UPA having just 30% vote share in the electoral college of the presidential election (The NDA has 28% while others command 42% of the vote share) due in July, it is certain that there's going to be a long drawn battle/negotiations among political parties before anyone settles in at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
There are reports coming in media that sympathisers of vice-president Hamid Ansari have begun hectic lobbying for fielding him as a candidate. According to them, he stands a good chance of emerging a consensus choice because, being a Muslim, he is likely to be backed by both Left parties and the Samajwadi Party that now commands a chunk of votes in the electoral college. But being seen as Congress man, Ansari's role on the last day of Lok Pal debate in the RS and may not go down well within many parties. The other names -- Pranab Mukherjee, Gopal Krishan Gandhi, Karan Singh (by the way his name crops up everytime during President & V-P elections, but gets eliminated soon), Meira Kumar and Sushil Kumar Shinde -- are all set to make their way out of the race.
WHAT'S THE OPTION FOR CONGRESS?: There is one name which is seen as NDA candidate, but SP and Trinamool may not oppose, and which Congress should propose is former President APJ Abdul Kalam. He was an NDA candidate (with the backing of SP and BSP) in his first stint in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. In getting Kalam in is a better option for the Congress this time, than facing defeat in the Prez poll. Congress may also find itself more comfortable with Kalam rather than any other NDA or SP-sponsored candidate. If this time Congress proposes his name, NDA may have no problem, and SP and Trinamool may also not ignore him because of his clean image and also being a Muslim candidate.
WHY KALAM AGAIN?: People of the country will certainly not ask why Kalam again because of his magnificent first innings. There is another reason too: Kalam's second innings will also save a good amount of tax-payers money, which the State spends on a former President.