Showing posts with label PA Sangma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PA Sangma. Show all posts

Friday, July 6, 2012

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT – A Post-poll legal Battle Appears Imminent

A Post-poll legal Battle Appears Imminent

By Amba Charan Vashishth

The court of the people will make its verdict public through its elected representatives in State assemblies and Parliament on July 19. But that may not be final verdict. The people's court verdict may ultimately be challenged in the courts of law. It may put a question mark on the result itself. An indication to this effect has already been given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mr. P. A. Sangma, the only opponent of Congress candidate Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.

This ugly situation seems to be developing not on account of the manipulations of his only rival but by the overwhelming overconfidence generated by the numbers that seemed to be favouring the Congress nominee. His poll managers failed to be vigilant to ensure that he did not hold any office of profit the day he filed his nomination papers. Perhaps they erred into believing that the Office of Profit Act 2006 had exempted the office of the Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata from being so. They seem to have forgotten that exemption provided in this Act applied only to the MPs and MLAs and not to the office of President.

Mr.  P. A. Sangma had urged rejection of the nomination papers of his only rival Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that the latter continued to hold an 'office of profit' as ISI chairman.  Congress Party was quick to dismiss the contention as "factually incorrect" and claimed that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned this post on June 20 "well before filing the nomination".

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P. K. Bansal who alongwith Home Minister P. Chidambaram argued the case on behalf of Mr. Mukherjee said they told the Returning Officer that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned as ISI Chairman and the same had been forwarded to the President of the Institute. The Returning Officer accepted the argument as also Mr. Mukherjee's papers, they said.

No speaking order

The stage for the constitutional wrangling has been set by the decision of the returning officer for Presidential election V. K. Agnihotri. He did not make public copy of any speaking order issued by him. All that he told reporters was that he ”overruled the objections raised " by Mr. Sangma after "making summary inquiries, as required under the relevant provisions of the presidential and vice-presidential Election Act regarding conduct of scrutiny of nomination papers and after hearing both the parties in both the cases" on July 3,  "as they were untenable and lacked merit."

Article 58(2) of the Constitution provides that a ”person shall not be eligible for election as President if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments". Therefore, as per requirements of law Mr. Mukherjee should not have been holding "any office of profit" at the time of filing his nomination papers.

Acceptance of resignation vital

On the directions of the Election Commission, the Returning Officer has supplied a copy of his order to Mr. Sangma. Although the text has so far not been made public, but BJP has claimed that it is not a "speaking order" and it only mentions the 'fact' of Mr. Mukherjee having resigned. The mandatory requirement is not just his resignation but the fact that he did not hold "any office of profit" on the day and the time he filed his nomination papers. By mere resigning or his resignation having been forwarded to any authority does not imply that he ceases to hold his post. This he does only after his resignation had been accepted.

Merely by resigning one does not cease to hold the office. An individual who resigns as a minister, an MP or MLA does  get relieved of his office not on the time and date he resigned but from the time and date his resignation is accepted by the President or Governor, or Speaker, as the case may be. Therefore, Mr. Mukherjee's resignation does not mean that he ceased to hold his office of profit mere by the fact of his resigning.

The government or Mr. Mukherjee have so far failed to make public a notification to the effect that Mr. Mukherjee's resignation from the office (of profit) of ISI Chairman has been accepted on  a date prior to his filing of nomination papers. The President of the ISI has so far not opened his mouth. Any post-dated notification declaring an ante-dated acceptance of his resignation would only be an after-thought, bad in law and will substantiate Mr. Sangma's charge. This fact has vitiated the very atmosphere of the election process.

Signatures 'forged'?

BJP has even challenged that Mr. Mukherjee's signatures on the resignation are forged. It has released two different signatures. Reacting to the charge, Mr. Mukherjee wondered whether he would himself forge his own signatures.  But this reaction does not clear the cloud of doubt. A minister cannot have two different sets of signatures. Moreover, whenever a minister takes office, his specimen signatures are sent to various agencies. These are the signatures he has to use in all his official communications. No person can afford to have two sets of signatures using one today and the other tomorrow.

The new development has only vitiated the whole election process. It has opened floodgates of suspicion. Anybody going in for an election petition has a strong case. There are numerous instances where elections to parliament and state assemblies have been set aside or in a case of direct election, the loser having been declared the winner because of wrong acceptance or rejection of nomination papers of a candidate.                                                                               ***

Monday, June 25, 2012

Unsavoury tales of present ELECTION OF PRESIDENT

Unsavoury tales of present Election of President

Politics and morality are perhaps, at least in India, the two banks of a river which can never meet. The way the Congress did stitch support for its nominee for the post of President of India from a fragmented polity of UPA-II allies and those supporting it from outside lends credence to this feeling.
The only difference and saving grace this time has been that while Congress could road-roll its will in nominating the present incumbent in the Rashtrapati Bhawan (RB) ignoring merit and moral considerations, this time in the process of political maneuverability to stage political upmanship it could not afford to sidetrack merit.
Credit for this goes neither to the Congress nor to its supremo Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. This has rightly been claimed by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who has stated that his joining hands with Trinamul Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Ms Mamta Bannerjee and announcing a panel of 3 names – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee — hastened the process to make Congress announce the name of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.
Not first choice
Mr. Mukherjee was not Mrs. Gandhi's first choice. His name may have been propped up by some within the party, yet she never jumped at the idea. Important party functionaries, including spokesperson Mrs. Renuka Chaudhary, while accepting him to be the best candidate, had proferred the excuse that the party could not afford to 'spare' the UPA and party's 'troubleshooter' and 'firefighter'. Though he could not open up his heart, Mr. Mukherjee seemed reconciled to catching hold of his lifetime's second best ambition to move to  RB, his first choice being the post of PM having gone beyond his reach under the present circumstances.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi toyed with the idea of having a pliant occupant of the RB who could read her mind and act accordingly. Having failed to move to 7, Race Course Road herself, her last wish remained to see her heir apparent to occupy the nation's top job of prime minister. She is quite near realizing her dream but she knows, there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.  She is alive to the reality that but for the then President Zail Singh deeply committed to her mother-in-law, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, her husband could never have been the prime minister. It was President Zail Singh who broke the fine precedent of swearing-in the No. 2 in the cabinet following the death in office of a prime minister. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was in Kolkata when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Giani Zail Singh withheld the news of Mrs. Gandhi's death till Mr. Rajiv Gandhi landed in Delhi. He immediately sworn in Mr. Rajiv. Both Mr. Rajiv and Mr. Mukherjee had travelled together in plane from Kolkata and during the journey the latter had expressed the hope that as per the tradition and precedent he would be sworn in as the acting PM.
Later, the relations between Mr. Rajiv and President Zail Singh soured to such an extent that the former started having nightmares of his dismissal and did not prorogue the Parliament after the budget session of Parliament till a new incumbent had taken over in place of Mr. Zail Singh.  

As a report in the Times of India has indicated, the promise of support by each other's internecine foes – Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms Mayawati – to a common candidate has raised eyebrows. It is a gin animated by striking  a backroom deal. The report indicates that both had to fall in line because of the sword of Damocle of criminal cases of assets beyond known sources of income hanging over the heads of both. A promise of a go-slow or weakening of cases clinched the deal of support.  Otherwise, why is it that the dragon of these cases remains buried in silence under the debris of political maneuvers to be unearthed only in times of need and emergency?  RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav is similarly placed. During UP state assembly elections held just three months back the Congress and its heir apparent had been vigorously campaigning, though with little success, to end the ‘corrupt’ regime of Mayawati and a vow not to let the SP ‘goondaraj’ to usher in again. But in politics eating one’s own words is the staple food of our politicians. For them it is a matter of pride.


Fissures in NDA/UPA


Like last time, NDA ally Shiv Sena has taken a stand different from the alliance. At that time it supported incumbent President Smt. Pratibha Patil as she hailed from Maharashtra, this time too it chose to support UPA's candidate for election to the office of President.
JD(U) for consideration extraneous to the election of President took a stand different from the BJP-led NDA and decided to support Mr. Mukherjee although the NDA convener and JD(U) President Shri Sharad Yadav has stressed that the support is for Mr. Mukherjee and not for Congress and but for this, the alliance continues to be as strong as ever.
There is also media speculation that this casual friendship could be attempted to be cemented with the grant of a special economic package for Bihar. Shri Nitish Kumar had been agitating for it for the last over five years. His new found fondness for Mr. Mukherjee may ultimately, some media reports speculate, blossom into Congress bartering Shri Nitish Kumar's support with ultimate parting of ways with NDA to cozy up with the Congress-led UPA. For Congress it would be a coup de tat; it will bounce back to power with just four MLAs in a house of 243.
The candidature of Mr. Mukherjee has sowed seeds of discord not only in NDA; the UPA too does not remain unscathed. West Bengal Chief Minister, Sushri Mamta Banerjee, remains as defiant as ever and despite best efforts by Congress leadership and the presidential candidate who called her his "younger sister" has not so far been able to bring her round. But Congress has not lost hope. It is continuing with its efforts. As a last resort Congress could hold out a promise of a special economic package for West Bengal — a bait she may be unable not to swallow.
Me 'secular', you 'communal'
In politics everybody claims himself to be 'secular' and brands his opponent as 'communal'. The moment a 'communal' shifts sides, he becomes a 'secular' and vice versa. Mr. P. A. Sangma has been taken to be a 'secular' leader. But now that he has quit NCP and is contesting the election as an independent candidate supported by NDA allies BJP and Akali Dal have extended their support to him, no wonder if his opponents may now dub him as 'communal'.
Fingers have been raised about the involvement of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, in Scorpene and other deals. Mr. Mukherjee's office rejected Team Anna's allegations as "unfair" and "self-seeking", reflecting lack of responsibility while claiming to represent high standards of ethical behaviour. 

Reiterating the need for an independent investigation into the allegations against him as a person aspiring to be the President "should be above board" the Team Anna retorted:  "A person aspiring to be the President of India should be above board. You would agree that a person facing so many serious charges would bring disrepute to the position of president if he were not absolved of all these charges before being appointed on that post. Therefore, we demand independent investigations into all these charges before you are considered for this position."
It is true that a complainant cannot assume to be the judge himself. But equally true is the fact that the accused too has no right to hand out a verdict of "not guilty" for himself. It is only through an impartial and independent inquiry that truth can come out and prevail. Suspicions will linger on till that is done. And once a person gets elected to the highest office, he earns immunity and however solid or flimsy the allegations may be, these get pushed below the carpet of this immunity.
In all fairness, a person should not enjoy immunity from prosecution for an offence which he/she committed not as a President or governor but in the performance of his duties earlier while holding some other public office. We have instances of diehard criminals getting elected as MLAs or MPs but still rubbing their heels in jails. An election should not bestow an immunity from prosecution of any individual, high or low.
The way allegations of bartering of support with favours in criminal cases pending against the likes of Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sushri Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the like, or with the special economic packages at public expense are a blot on the name of our democracy. This derails the EC effort to make every candidate contest from from an equal pedestal.
Unfortunately, it is also for the first time that the present incumbent and the present contestant for the office of President are faced with such allegations.
In comparison, Mr. Sangma may not have enjoyed that long an inning in politics as does Mr. Mukherjee, yet whichever public office Mr. Sangma held, including that of Speaker of Lok Sabha for a year and a half, he did leave an indelible imprint. On the contrary, Mr. Mukherjee's performance during UPA-II has not been that spectacular either as External Affairs Minister or later as Finance Minister. The country's economy and rupee witnessed a historic downslide. The prices and inflation were skyrocketing. The aam aadmi suffered the most. His election as President will, in a way, amount to putting premium on non-performance and inefficiency.