04 December, 2020

Man In The Hot Seat

With no precedents to guide him, the President grapples with the Constitution’s grey areas

Man In The Hot Seat

NEVER has the President’s job been so complicated as during the latest political stalemate arising from the fall of the Vajpayee government. The head of state now has to literally select the head of the government. That is not the way the Constitution deemed it, but then the framers of that statute had not reckoned that 50 years down the line there would be over 40 political parties with varying ideologies in the fray and an evenly split mandate.

Last week, amidst claim and counter-claim, President K.R. Narayanan found himself listening to the oddest political explanations: from Mayawati who said that she was undecided, to leaders from the RSP and Forward Bloc who claimed equidistance from the Congress and the BJP, to those parties who favoured invitations to Sonia and Vajpayee.

In this melee, the President stands alone, an unenviable job for someone who is an arch constitutionalist, aware that his position is likened to Caesar’s wife. Given Narayan-an’s background, first as a bureaucrat and then elder Congress statesman given to ‘progressive’...



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