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Poll debacle can constrain Congress in Prez choice

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 23:53

New Delhi: The Congress party`s poor show
in the just-concluded Assembly polls in five states has raised
questions over its ability to get a candidate of its choice
elected as the next President of India in the July poll.

With incumbent Pratibha Patil`s term ending in July
this year, the ruling UPA coalition will have to start the
search for an acceptable candidate over whom a consensus could
be arrived at.

The UPA, unlike in 2007 when it had the Left combine
which solidly backed the ruling coalition`s nominee Patil, it
has in the current dispensation allies like the Trinamool
Congress which differs with the Congress on issues every now
and then.

The Congress, which does not have a majority either in
the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, is estimated to have a
voteshare of 30 per cent in the Presidential electoral college
and has to depend on its allies, friends who support the
government from outside and others who can be counted upon.

The Congress itself has over 275 MPs in both the Houses
which account for a vote value of over 1,90,000 and a value of
about 1,35,000 in the legislatures.

With only one third of the total vote value in its
kitty, the Congress will have to walk the extra mile to see
its flock intact in the ruling coalition and to woo those

The election results have not given any comfort to the
Congress especially in Uttar Pradesh where it had hoped to do
better. The spectacular victory by Samajwadi Party, which
provides outside support to the government at the Centre, puts
further pressure on the Congress in dealing with it.

In the 2007 election, BJP put up the late Vice
President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as a candidate against
Patil, who was backed by its allies in the NDA.

At the end, Patil won by a vote value of 6,38,116 as
against Shekhawat`s 3,31,306.

Asked if BJP would help the Congress by supporting its
candidate in the Presidential election, senior party leader
Arun Jaitley said in a television programme yesterday that the
government should first decide its candidate and come to it
for consultation.

In the coming elections, Congress` problems will be
compounded by the fact that the votes it had in the form of
support from Tamil Nadu has been eroded tremendously with its
defeat in the state along with that of the dominant ally DMK.

Another major state West Bengal has landed in the
hands of Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress which has become
a difficult ally.

One more disconcerting factor is the coming together
of non-Congress, non-BJP Chief Ministers on issues like terror
and Food Security Bill whose emergence could put constraints
on the UPA`s choice.


First Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 23:53
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