Mudda examines the BJP decision to propose the Bihar governor’s name as the NDA candidate for president

With BJP President Amit Shah declaring in a press conference that Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind is the NDA candidate for the president’s post, the spotlight  shifted to the upcoming presidential polls. APN’s popular show, Mudda, on Monday took up this topic. The debate was coordinated by Anant and the panellists included Baleshwar Tyagi of the BJP, Shahjat Poonawala of the Congress, Syed Afzal Abbas of the JD(U), Manoj Yadav of the SP and Govind Pant Raju, APN consulting editor.

Poonawala said that the UPA is yet to discuss the matter and the Congress will decide after talking with all members of the UPA.

Yadav too said that this sudden decision of the BJP has left other parties with no option but to talk internally first on the issue of supporting Kovind’s candidature or proposing some other name.

Poonawala said that the Congress is not like the BJP, and all parties of the UPA shall decide after a consensus emerges. “The Congress will not thrust its own choice on other UPA partners,” said Poonawala.

Tyagi of the BJP said that this is not a “parachute name” and the party leaders must have decided on Kovind’s candidature after proper assessment. “Kovind is a respected leader, he is a Dalit, a highly qualified lawyer, and the governor of Bihar, so there is no doubt that he is a good choice,” Tyagi said.

Anant and Raju pointed out to Tyagi that Uddhav Thackeray’s suggestion and the name of MS Swaminathan that was earlier doing the rounds have been side-stepped by the BJP, which might spell trouble for the party. “It’s a political decision,” said Raju.

Abbas said that it is too early to say what his party leaders feel about Kovind’s candidature at this stage.

When pointed out by Anant that LK Advani has been left out of the race, Tyagi said that Advani is a tall leader in the BJP and this does not mean that he has been ignored. “The party takes a political decision after keeping in mind a lot of things. So not proposing Advani’s name does not mean that the senior leader has been ignored,” Tyagi said.

Poonawala said that politics is a game of possibilities. “What is certain is that the Congress will make its stand clear only after talks with all partners in the UPA,” he said.

Raju said that Advani has been under the Supreme Court cloud of late, with old cases pending against him, which is why he might have been left out of the running. “It’s not a question of missing out on any guru dakshina, or Advani not being given his due in the party. Advani being left out of the race seems to be mainly due to the SC cloud over him,” said Raju.

Tyagi pointed out that in the Jain hawala case, when Advani’s name had figured, the leader himself had said that he would resign until proved clean. He said that a leader with such high moral standards does not need to prove himself again and again.

Poonawala said that this is something that only Narendra Modi or Shah can answer. “How come Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Yogi Adityanath are continuing in their posts, despite legal cases against them, and Advani is left out due to cases against him?” Anant asked.

Putting things in perspective, Raju said that it is too much to see a conspiracy behind the timing of Advani’s legal case. He said that so far, since Independence, India has had 14 presidents, and only in one case—Neelam Sanjiva Reddy—had all parties agreed unanimously on a single name, otherwise there has always been an election for the president’s post.

When Anant asked Yadav if the SP will bat for Mulayam Singh Yadav or Anna Hazare, Yadav said the party is yet to decide on that.

Raju pointed out that Mulayam’s name will only come up if Akhilesh Yadav proposes. “The opinion of leaders keeps changing, so we need to wait and see if the SP does that,” he said.

When Poonawala compared the situation to cricket and that players keep playing till the last ball, Raju pointed out that in some matches it is virtually the first innings that decide the outcome of the game.

Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari