NEW DELHI: The numbers game to select the President and the Vice President of India is hotting up political pocket calculators already. In case the Third Front and the NDA decide on a common candidate and vote in tandem, their cumulative strength will be 456186, far ahead of the UPA.
However, if the UPA manages to retain supporting parties, such the Samajwadi Party, the Rastriya Janata Dal and the Lok Jan Shakti Party in its fold, its tally goes to 505338. However there’s a catch; the UPA has to remain intact. In case the Trinamool Congress or the DMK decides to withdraw support, the UPA numbers will drastically nosedive to 385329, nominally ahead of the NDA’s current tally. Hence, if L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi seals a deal with Jayalalithaa, it may spell trouble for the ruling coalition.
For the Vice Presidential election, the support of the Trinamool Congress and the DMK are even more crucial for the UPA. The two regional parties can really queer the pitch since the UPA lacks majority in the Rajya Sabha. The two houses of Parliament—that is 790 MPs, including 14 nominated members—elect the Vice President through single transferable votes. But what could prove to be a real nightmare for the Congress is the coming together of Trinamool Congress, AIADMK and BSP for the VP elections.
Like the last time, Mukherjee is again emerging as one of the main contenders to be the first citizen. However, sources close to him indicate that Mamata’s 45,640 votes will make or break his dreams; most likely break. Since, the UPA government is totally dependent on Mukherjee for every odd-job, it is to be seen whether Sonia Gandhi repeats the same excuse as the last time to keep him out of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.
The other possibility is, the UPA may bring back the tradition of elevating the Vice President to President. Sources indicate, Vice President Hamid Ansari’s chances are bright. His apolitical nature and his track record of independent functioning has earned him several brownie points in the Rajya Sabha. But then came the Lokpal fiasco, and his decision to adjourn the Upper House sine die at midnight without voting has greatly upset the opposition; even the Left, who are his old friends, are miffed.
Other names for President doing the rounds are: Meira Kumar, Congress veterans Karan Singh and Mohsina Kidwai, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal Governors ESL Narasimhan and M K Narayanan. Never too tired to try, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah is also in the running. He has even turned spiritual, to please the gods.