President Ram Nath Kovind’s term in office ends on 24 June. Speculation has already begun on who could take his place. Those in power have tended over the years to try and make a political statement while bringing in someone qualified to do the job. There have also been exceptions that have been selected to represent one or the section over actual ability. At the same time, there has also been the occasional extraordinary person like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who brought value to the office. For the NDA, he has undoubtedly become the standard by which to judge future candidates.
At the same time, there is also the pressure to ensure sections not represented, thus far, have someone from among them elected to this august office. Once again, over the years, consensus has been difficult to achieve among parties, with the opposition often attempting to thwart the government’s preferred appointment. That is the case at the present and the effort is underway that a strong candidate be put up by a united front of non-NDA parties. Octogenarian Sharad Pawar is believed to have the strongest support in this regard, but it is early days yet.
It is also a fact that regional parties, which face off against each other in their respective states, will find it hard to agree on a common candidate. Enough votes may swing the NDA way to ensure a straightforward government victory. Several names have been suggested as the likely NDA candidate but, knowing PM Narendra Modi’s style, there could be a surprise in the offing. It may even be one from the most favoured – present VP M Venkaiah Reddy, or Kerala Governor Md Arif Khan. However, there is also talk, this time, of having a tribal nominee, who may also be a woman. The NDA would obviously like someone whose political inclinations match its own, while at the same time being upstanding in the performance of duties – enough to keep the opposition in good humour.
President Kovind’s tenure has been free of controversy, but sometimes difficult decisions have to be made that require rising above partisan politics. One of the most controversial presidential acts in the past was that of imposing Emergency during Indira Raj. The nation would not like a repeat of such servility to the powers that be. So, when the choice is ultimately made, it should inspire the nation and send the message that democracy and the constitution are in the right hands.