Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Presidential Race

India will soon have a new President. In all likelihood the nominee of the ruling Congress party, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, would get elected and would be the President of India for the next five years. In India the President's role is very limited as it is the Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister who have the maximum power. More English in this sense. The Indians do not vote for the President! Only the elected representatives of the Indian Parliament and all the Legislative Assemblies in the states are eligible to vote. Now, more interesting part is: even here, whereas the value of vote of all Members of Parliament is the same, the members of State legislative assemblies differ depending on how many people live in that particular state. So, there is all the drama packed in. Although Mr. Pranab Mukherjee is a well known person, currently the Finance Minister of India, someone who is known for his wit and wisdom, and considered by all as a Statesman rather than a politician, and also is from West Bengal, the ruling party in West Bengal led by Ms. Mamata Banerjee has opposed his candidature. So, this has thrown the election open. However, the main opposition parties led by BJP are also divided in their opinion as some of them want to support Mr. Pranab as he is a well respected person and a senior leader. Well, as the drama goes on and the TV channels went on a 24 x 7 mode on the issue, the common people have been forgotten. 

I went to some of the places in Ward 46 of Howrah Municipal Corporation (just inside Kolkata in a sense) and beside Santragachi train station. What you see is the highrises on the highway. But behind it all runs the filth of the city occupied on its sides by the poor and marginalized, the under-served. And they do not want to give polio vaccine for their children because that is the only time they see the government people going to them, and at all other times, they need to run behind the government officials to get even mundane tasks done, like birth certificate for their children. I saw a cartoon a few days ago in which the "poor people" are talking among themselves: "Hope after the politicians all together send one man to occupy the 536 roomed house (referring to the Presidential Palace), hope they will give some time to put us in a single room at least."

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