Mudda panel condemns caste ploy in presidential poll

As India prepares to elect its 14th president, the fight between Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar intensifies in the media with both leaders confident of victory.

Monday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s daily current affairs talk show, discussed the issue. Moderated by Akshay Tripathi, the guests were former acting Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court RB Mishra, BJP spokesperson KK Sharma, Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput and APN Consulting Editor Govind Pant Raju.

Justice Mishra said: “India is the largest democracy in the world. Sections 52 and 54 of the Constitution define the responsibilities and the electoral procedure for electing our president. Our president’s role is not dynamic, like America’s president, but he plays an important role. One of the important roles is that he appoints warrants of SC and HC judges.” Asked about the caste debate that emerged regarding the two candidates, he said no president should be elected based on his caste. “Kovind was not only a Supreme Court lawyer, he was a Rajya Sabha MP too. People should focus on his capabilities, not his caste.”

Sharma, on the other hand, said that this is the first time that any ruling political party has tried to create unity in voting. He said: “We formed a three-person committee that met with every opposition party. We went to get their full consent. Instead, the Congress asked us to give our names first. Their ego comes before everything. They started a debate on why we are not giving names.”

Rajput defended his party, asking why anybody should give consent without even knowing who they were giving consent for. He said: “Even Atalji had sent his party members with a name to get the consent.”

Raju focused on the caste issue. He said: “When the BJP chose a Dalit leader, Kovind, the Congress put up Meira Kumar’s name, who is a Dalit too. Both the parties kept in mind the caste of the leaders. And this was done keeping in mind the next Lok Sabha election. We should be grateful to our citizens that caste politics have taken a seat in the corner as the voting starts today. We hope the electoral college will elect the president based on credentials.”

The second half of Mudda discussed Madhur Bhandarkar’s latest film, Indu Sarkar, which has come under the scanner of Congress leaders who allege it portrays Sonia Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in the wrong light. Film writer Anil Pandey joined the panel at this point.

Rajput said that if some leaders are instigating protests, it is the responsibility of the centre and the law enforcement agencies to stop them.

Pandey reasoned: “They are afraid that the truth will come out through this film. But it will come out on July 28. And we should also keep in mind that the protest has started after they saw the trailer. One should watch the movie, then decide on the correctness of facts and portrayal.”

Compiled by Usha Rani Das