By Ashima Makhija
After successive victories by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in recent bypolls, the upcoming presidential election in July has presented a mighty task for the Opposition. All the opposition parties have decided to unite against the BJP and the discussions for this are ongoing.
Numbers at stake
The President is elected through the method of proportional representation. To be appointed as the President, a candidate has to secure 50% of the votes polled. This election is particularly decisive because the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is short of a few numbers to have the power to appoint the president. If the parties, that have remained non-aligned so far, become part of the “United Opposition”, instead of the BJP camp, the scales will tip and the Opposition will get the chance of appointing the President.
Calling for a united party
Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, has taken charge of forming a unified opposition. She has held meetings with Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar, Sharad Yadav, leaders of the Left Front and other regional parties. The Congress has also extended its reach to CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Rashtriya Janata Dal head Lalu Prasad Yadav. The Gandhi’s will also meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin of the DMK from Tamil Nadu and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati.
Even though no confirmation has emerged so far, names like JDU’s Sharad Yadav, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are floating around, for the common candidate.
According to political analysts, a victory of the common candidate of the Opposition parties, will lay the foundation for the“maha gathbandhan” for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. There are also some parties that haven’t joined either camp so far. These include AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and BJD (Odisha) among others.
The chinks in the saffron armor
Shiv Sena voted for Pranab Mukherjee in the 2012 elections and for Pratibha Patil in 2007, despite being part of the NDA. Uddhav Thackeray has declared that Shiv Sena could support Sharad Pawar if he contests the elections, for the sake of Maratha pride.
BJP, like the Opposition, is currently brainstorming to choose a suitable candidate. Names of Sushma Swaraj, Sumitra Mahajan and Nejma Heptullah have emerged. LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are out of contention after the recent Babri Masjid judgment.
The election is expected to be held before July 24, 2017, when the term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends. This election is expected to be the closest electoral contest of its kind since 1969, when VV Giri faced off with Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy.
Featured Image Source: IANS
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