15 January, 2021

Which Way Will He Rule?

Without clear-cut constitutional guidelines, President S.D. Sharma will face a difficult task in the event of a hung Parliament

Which Way Will He Rule?
The office of the President is like an emergency light. It comes on automatically when there is a crisis, and goes off automatically when the crisis passes.
—Former president R. Venkataraman in his memoirs, MY PRESIDENTIAL YEARS

IF the predictions of various opinion polls about a hung Parliament come true, the emergency light will start blinking in Rashtrapati Bhavan well before the last result of the Lok Sabha elections has been announced. And the man who will be then put on maximum alert is none other than the President, Shankar Dayal Sharma. There is little doubt in anybody's mind that the role of the President will be crucial in the selection of the next prime minister.

The President's task becomes all the more difficult because of the numerous grey areas which exist regarding his role in a situation when a single party or combine fails to get a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. The Constitution does not have a specific direction for the President in such a scenario, and past experiences have often been at variance with each other. It was former...



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