Every five years a constitutional routine is carried out, that of electing the president of India, with a monotonous encore of ruling political establishment of the day seeking a consensus from all parties on a candidate of its choice. The current scenario preceding the presidential election is no different, except for the fact that unlike in the past where both Congress or coalitions had held the reins of power, the ideological divide between the BJP on one side and all opposition parties put together on the other side, indicates that the ruling party would have to bargain really hard to mobilise support for the candidate propped up by it.
It was inevitable that the meeting held by the BJP with the opposition parties to seek their support turned out to be a fiasco since the rejection of a saffron brigade propped candidate was only to be anticipated. Earlier presidential elections had despite initial differences among opposition parties, witnessed either a consensus candidate or the ruling party’s choice being elected. But with all the parties across the political spectrum – except for BJP and its NDA allies- apprehensive of the secular credentials of a candidate selected by the ruling party, the presidential election this time is likely to reflect some interesting precedents.
So, the big question is would the BJP finally have a candidate of its choice as president? The party would achieve this objective only if it compromises on its ideology? Another pertinent question whether the party has the gumption to ignore the diktats of its more fundamentalist mentors like the RSS and VHP?
In all likelihood, the BJP is going to have a candidate of its choice, but after genuflecting to the opposition and propping up a candidate acceptable to all parties, including its allies in the government. This is the only option with the BJP to bring all the parties on board. Otherwise, the BJP would have a contest on its hands, despite the possibility of the party, in the final analysis, having the numbers in its favour.