The Roulette Wheel for the next President of India has been set into motion, except there is a difference because two people in India actually do know at whose name this wheel will stop – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his trusted aide and party president Amit Shah. Only they are not telling, even though process of consultation is on for the last week.
In the world of Modi & Shah, consultation is limited to one way conversation – trying to know the opponents mind without revealing their own. A three member committee comprising of Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh has been set up to go and talk to opposition leaders to vet their choices. The committee serves another purpose – it is a signal to the three heavy weight cabinet ministers that they are not being considered for the Post of President.
The numbers are with Modi & Shah with the NDA falling short of just 1.7 per cent of the vote to usher in its own candidate. The shortage will be made up by the AIADMK, the TRS and perhaps even the BJD. The Opposition, simply for the sake of a battle is planning to put up its own candidate – what the Govt call’s consensus the Cong sees as a walk-over and wants to use the Presidential elections to send the message that the Oppn is alive and kicking. The Left agrees and has let it be known regardless of whom the Govt suggests it will back Gopal Gandhi. The other allies are not so forthcoming with both the NCP and Mamata Bannerjee saying let’s wait and see whom the Govt suggests first.
For the PM the word consensus has many layered meanings. It’s not just getting all the political parties on board, it is also getting the RSS on board. For the RSS, has let it be known that since this is the first time the Parivar can put in its own candidate, it would prefer someone from within the BJP. Three choices have been given to the PM by the Sangh, if the sources are to be believed – Sushma Swaraj, UP Governor Ram Naik or a dalit or a tribal from the RSS ideology. The first is a definite No as the PM still recalls her support to LK Advani in 2013 when the BJP was finalising its PM face for 2014. Ram Naik is a possibility as is Thawar Chand Gehlot who is a Dalit with a strong RSS upbringing.
But those who know Modi say these names have peaked too soon. For all the talk of consensus, he will in all probability spring a last minute surprise. Someone who could effective counter Gopal Gandhi who is fast emerging as the Opposition’s choice, sponsored by the Left. For as a senior BJP leader put it – Modi Ji Unhi ko Banayenge Jinko Voh Mahamahim keh sake (Modi will only appoint someone whom he can address with respect)