The stage is all set for the presidential election, due in July this year. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may be looking for an eminent woman to hold the highest office of India.
“The Prime Minister is keen on a consensus candidate,” a senior BJP leader told Newsd. If the party doesn’t gain the requisite support, then it is believed that it’ll settle for a woman being in the Vice President’s chair. BJP’s decisive victories in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections give it a clear edge in the selection of the candidate.
Having a President of its choice occupying Rashtrapati Bhawan will be helpful to the party if it needs support in complicated political situations—like imposing central rule in any state.
The President is also the one who gives formal assent to laws passed by Parliament.
The incumbent President of India, Pranab Mukherjee will demit office on 25 July 2017, while Vice President Hamid Ansari will complete his term on August 19.
Some women leaders under active consideration for Rastrapati Bhawan include External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu.
Sushma Swaraj, who is one of the most prominent faces of the present government, started her career as a BJP MLA in Haryana in the 1980s. Ms Swaraj was also the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi between 1997 and 1998. In the general elections of 1998, she unsuccessfully took on Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a direct contest in Karnataka’s Bellary parliamentary constituency. She also held important ministries in the Atal Behari Vajpayee led NDA government between 1998 and 2004.
Albeit low-profile, Draupadi Murmu has been one of the most respected tribal faces of BJP. Starting her career as an MLA from Rairangpur assembly constituency in Odisha, Ms Murmu has served various ministerial positions in the Orissa government. She has been MoS for Commerce and Transport from March 6, 2000 to Aug 6, 2002 and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from Aug 6, 2002 to May 16, 2004 during the BJP and Biju Janata Dal coalition government in Odisha. BJP has emerged as a strong contender in the recently concluded local body elections in the state. A prominent party face from the state holding the President’s chair may help the BJP further consolidate ground in Odisha. The incumbent CM, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, is already serving his fourth consecutive term in the state.
The sources added that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel are also not to be negated in the race for the Presidential post.
Anandiben Patel served as Cabinet Minister for Education from 2002 to 2007. She was the Cabinet Minister of Road and Building, Revenue, Urban development and Urban Housing, Disaster Management and Capital Projects from 2007 to 2014.
They also added that in case the BJP fails to build consensus on either of these names, Murmu and Justice (Retd) Ranjana Desai are highly probable candidates for Vice Presidency.
Justice (Retd) Ranjana Desai has been serving as Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity since Dec 2014. Married into a Gujarati family, Justice Desai herself has a Marathi origin. This is something, the BJP hopes, will help get Shiv Sena on board.
President of India is elected by an electoral college that is formed by 776 parliamentarians and 4,120 legislators.
The total strength of the electoral college is 10,98,882 votes and the halfway mark is 5,49,442 votes.
The NDA is now short of only about 25,000 votes and friendly parties like the Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK can easily bridge the deficit.