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Has the public lost faith in the Presidency?

Jul 20, 2007 02:37 AM IST Politics Politics

Polls ended on Thursday to decide who will be head of the Indian state. For the first time in modern India it is likely to be a woman - Pratibha Patil as the numbers are clearly in her favour. But perhaps what this election will be most known for are the very low points of a very high office.

There was brisk polling across the country in one of India's most bitterly contested, muck-raking and scandal-filled Presidential polls.

There were some surprises too. Jayalalitha's AIADMK broke with the UNPA to vote for NDA backed Bhairon Singh Shekhawat while in Gujarat, dissidents against Modi voted for UPA's nominee Pratibha Patil.

The brute numbers are in favour of Patil but civil society leaders say these elections are a fraud on the Indian public.

The biggest battle of the year has finally ended Kaun Banega Rashtrapati but this is an election, which will be remembered for a variety of reasons.

Has the public lost faith in the Presidency? This was the big debate on CNN-IBN show Face the Nation conducted by Sagarika Ghose.

On the panel to discuss the issue were Devendra Dwivedi, senior Congress leader and Madhu Kishwar, Editor, Manushi.

The initial results of the poll showed, 89 per cent of viewers saying yes the public have lost faith in the presidency and only 11 per cent people say no the public has not lost faith in the presidency.

The kind of Presidential poll we have seen, charges counter-charges muck-raking and severe allegations against the Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil – allegations of financial fraud and allegations of shielding an alleged murderer. Is it going to be a situation where the President of India will have to use her judicial immunity to keep away from the a possible criminal investigation.

Answering the question Dwivedi said, “Today is an eventful day in Indian democracy where a women a highly respected politician of 40 years of public service is going to be elected as president and she has been chosen as a women president not as tokenism not as symbolism but as a act of faith. What is happening now is a sad reflection or the state of politics how politics have been trivialized how personal attacks are being made against political adversaries how legal weapons are being used for fighting political battles.”

Has the public felt left out? The process is not transparent there are whips issued and the public seems to not really get in. is there a feeling that the public is out of this process completely and there is not accountability at all.

Kishwar agreed to the fact that - yes the public is out of this process completely and said, “The public is not really expected to vote in this election. The big difference is that President Kalam brought about a see change in people’s expectations of this high office and making himself available to the public he has raised the expectations of the Indian people that are not anymore contend with a rubber stamp president which was easily acceptable for decades. “
The problem with Pratibha Patil is its not that the opposition brought out the mark that all these facts about financial frauds murder charges of very close relative were brought to the light to the highest office within the congress party by congress men and women themselves. It’s the congress party leader from her home state who have been knocking at the doors of high command saying ‘do something’, “ she added.

Kalam redefined the presidency does not Pratibha Patil really of a hard act to follow there?

Dwivedi replied, “When we talk about presidency president Kalam is not the first president that happened to this country much much greater men, men who have created history Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain - such eminent people have been occupied President.”

Pratibha Patil was a practicing lawyer, she is a five term MLA, she has had many portfolios, she was member of the 10th Lok Sabha, deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, a table tennis champion and miss Jalgaon in 1962.

When asked about Kishwar’s exact objection to Pratibha Patil she said, “All these things would count if she didn’t have such a huge shadow cast over her by her own actions and by her own party men and women. Secondly there are any number of qualified women within the congress party take Margaret Alva for instance all her life she fought for women’s causes and her nomination would have been welcomed by large sections of the women’s movement. In this case its criminal charges and no matter what congressmen say before media. Pratibha Patil is a liability.”

The first president perhaps in the history of India with criminal charges potentially facing members of her family.

Not agreeing to the allegations against Pratibha Patil Dwivedi said, “I am shocked and surprised with the use of the word criminal charges. There is no charge against her either criminal or civil or any allegations in regard to fraud irregularity impropriety as director of that particular bank – all that has been said about is in respect of a certain bank. In 40 years of her political career not a single allegations ever being made against her. In the finding of the RBI no reference to her any allegations no against her - it is only against a particular bank from which she de-associated after 1994. “

Talking about the present scenario of the Congress Party Kishwar said, “Today the Congress party has specialised in putting down and reducing the stature of its own people it does not let them rise. This self-destructive urge of the congress party what concerns well-wishers of the congress party.”

Has the public lost faith in the Presidency?
Yes 92 %
No: 8 %