With reference to “Crucial week for Presidential election, last date for filing nominations is June 28” (June 19), during the debate that took place in the Constituent Assembly regarding the election of the President, Prof. K T Shah proposed that every adult should have his or her share in electing the head of the State; and accordingly, instead of indirect election through the representatives of legislatures, the election should be by the votes of the people themselves. He argued that while deciding upon the leading principles “we were under a stress and strain, and were passing through difficult circumstances and were under influences, which, I venture to submit, deflected our judgment, unbalanced our outlook, and, therefore, we voted for and accepted ideas, which, in my opinion, were not then, and are not now consistent with the idea of a true, real, working democracy, in every sphere of life”. He did not wish the President to be a mere mouthpiece of the Prime Minister but to be the real representative of people in their collective capacity and in their sovereignty.
However, the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom argued that the government is carried on not directly by the people but by their duly elected representatives and, therefore, in consonance with this principle, made the presidential election an indirect election. Unfortunately, soon after Independence, ruling dispensations started springing “candidates” loyal to them upon the electoral college making their selection a fait accompli.
It is unsettling as to why the Bharatiya Janata Party, with a strong mandate, both at the Centre and in states, is showing reluctance in being transparent over the choice of its presidential candidate. This will only exacerbate the unrest and anxieties that have become everyday realities in an allegedly polarised society. It is time political parties, both in power and otherwise, freed the office of the president from political compulsions and executive burdens. In an increasingly tumultuous global political and geopolitical landscape, it is imperative for the new incumbent to enjoy widespread confidence.
Shreyans Jain New Delhi
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