According to a top BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj is emerging as the frontrunner to become NDA’s nominee for the next President of India. Sushma Swaraj, who has the endorsement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), fulfills all the criteria laid down by the BJP leadership. Sushma Swaraj commands respect across party lines and the BJP leadership believes the Opposition might not be in position to oppose her candidature for next President of India.
A seven-time MP and three-time MLA, Sushma Swaraj has earned respect across the political spectrum and of public with her remarkable work as the Minister of External Affairs. She has become a star on social media with her active and personal interventions in bringing home stranded Indians.
Sushma Swaraj was the first female Spokesperson of a national political party in India. She has many firsts to her credit as BJPs first female Chief Minister, Union Cabinet Minister, general secretary, Spokesperson, Leader of Opposition and Minister of External Affairs.She is the Indian Parliament’s first and the only female MP honoured with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.
The fact that Swaraj’s appeal cuts across party lines was for everyone to see during the last Budget Session of the parliament, when she returned after a six-month break during which she underwent a kidney transplant. As Swaraj entered the House, members from all parties stood up as a gesture of respect and Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan welcomed her on behalf of everyone.
While the names of Draupadi Murmu and Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha, were doing the rounds, the party appears to be tilting in favour of Sushma Swaraj.
Draupadi Murmu is the first woman Governor of Jharkhand. She is the first woman and tribal leader from Odisha to be appointed as a governor in an Indian state.
The first reason that makes Swaraj a favourite for the post is that her nomination would easily break Opposition unity.Regional stalwarts like Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar have already indicated a willingness to consider supporting a consensus candidate if is not a Hindutva hardliner.
Considered by many as the best orator in the present Lok Sabha, Swaraj is respected not only for her seniority, but also for her knowledge of legislative matters. She chose politics over legal practice in the Supreme Court and became a minister in Haryana at the age of 25.
Meanwhile if Swaraj is to become the next president and supreme commander of the armed forces, India would finally have a woman president who goes beyond the symbolism of her gender. Unlike the little-known Pratibha Patil, the seven-term MP has a successful and long record in politics and would have more than earned the position compared to her female predecessor.
If Swaraj is the declared candidate the Congress and the Left are likely to be the only Opposition parties who will still insist on a contest.To drive a wedge through Opposition unity, especially at a time when there are murmurs of a Mahagatbandhan against Modi for 2019, would fit right in with the BJP’s ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ blueprint.
Since Sonia Gandhi is personally leading the dialogue among 17 non-BJP parties to choose a presidential candidate, pulling leaders away from this informal alliance in support of Swaraj would further weaken the clout of the Gandhi brand. This would perfectly suit Amit Shah and Modi’s preparations for 2019. Swaraj is the only political candidate who could trigger this confusion and divide in the Opposition ranks.
As per the schedule announced by the Election Commission of India, the election to choose the next President of India will be held on July 17, while the result of Presidential polls will be declared on July 20. The NDA candidate for the presidential election is likely to file nomination before June 24.
The Electoral College for choosing the President consists of 4,896 voters. While the Lok Sabha has 543 voters and the Rajya Sabha 233, the overwhelming majority, 4,120, comes from state assemblies. The total value of votes in the election is 10,98,903 — 5,49,408 for MPs and 5,49,495 for MLAs.
The value of each vote of an MP is 708 but this differs for MLAs from state to state. The value of an MLA’s vote in Uttar Pradesh is the highest (208) and the lowest is Sikkim (7).
The NDA by itself is short of about 18,000 votes. But it expects to gain the support of many smaller parties, besides all the factions of the feuding AIADMK, which has vote value of over 26,000.