Presidential elections 2012


The spotlight in the last few months have been on the presidential polls of 2012. After facing a full year of turmoil and trouble, the press are portraying the presidential elections as a kind of acid test to show its political strength. Indeed this election has less to do with the office of the president *( An office which is legally bound to be apolitical and neutral to the political forces in power ), and everything to do with the political competition between ruling and opposition parties.

The months of uncertainty before the candidature of Pranab Mukherji *( the former finance minister and the ‘trouble shooter’ for the Congress ) saw most parties putting up their preferred political candidates, each with its own political consideration in mind. The schism between Congress and its allies, and likewise that of the BJP and its allies, only became sharper when the Congress in a political masterstroke chose Pranab Mukherji as its presidential candidate. The aftermath is for all to see, the opposition became divided as its own allies went with the Congress’ party’s choice of president, and the TMC in Bengal was left isolated and powerless in influencing the elections.

The president’s office is touted as being higher in stature and respect than that of the lower house, and as such his role is to sit as a neutral head of state, divorced from any political imperative. This stature is partly reflected in the nature of elections which take place through a secret ballot, thus divorcing it from the direct purview of a popular mandate, ensuring the president’s detachment from the lower house and its politics. All of this also creates an office which isn’t accountable to the people, and is perennially at the mercy of whoever is strong enough to dominate the lower house of parliament. He who controls the cabinet controls the president. Accordingly, the office of the president becomes reduced to an extension of power in the lower house. This dynamic has only been more fully revealed in these elections.

The Congress intends to use this election simply to consolidate its position in both houses of parliament, upper and lower. Having one of its own as the president would give it far greater power than would be the case if a neutral “person of standing” be chosen as the president *( as mandated by the constitution ). The opposition and other regional parties for their part are simply using the election as an opportunity to further their agenda, and gain greater say within the Congress led alliance by adding pressure upon it. The BJP led alliance only wants to undercut the Congress in this race to the highest office of the parliament.

But as things stand, their alliance is both dysfunctional and fragmented, breaking down as a result of the Congress’ choice of president. What these farcical elections show if anything, is the degradation of the high stature of parliament, ripping the mask of neutrality from itself, and the supremacy of the power of political parties and social forces. In this power game, the worst mistake for the political party of the working class would be, is to take sides between any of the candidates. The CPIM has done precisely that, and quite quixotically, fallen into the bourgeois’ trap. Naturally, its ranks have revolted leading to the dissolution of the SFI in JawaharLal Nehru University in Delhi.

Prelude to 2014 ?

The elections are without a doubt a prelude to 2014’s general elections. The power of the Congress would be immeasurably emboldened by a victory in the presidential elections, and would give it the boldness with which to push through many pro-capitalist reforms in parliament. Having isolated its troublesome petty bourgeois rivals and placated others *( like the Socialist party from U.P ) into an alliance, it has now gotten the necessary support to push forward more open market policies which would otherwise not been possible due to opposition from these regional parties.

The main objective of this presidential election is now clear. It was a calculated move to divide and weaken opposition to itself and strengthen its own position in parliament. A realignment is being undertaken now which would give it relative weight in a post 2014 scenario. The position and power of the president would most likely increase if there is no clear popular mandate, and a minority government would have to form. Neither the Congress led alliance nor the BJP led alliance seems poised to form government. In such a situation the Congress would be preparing for a hung parliament, president’s rule, and the complex scenario of a minority government. It’s critical in this period to consolidate the upper house of parliament and the office of the president with their own men.

What significance does the election really hold ?

The elections have revealed in full force, the farce of bourgeois legalism and the unmasked the truth of supposed halo of righteousness surrounding the bourgeois democratic system. Apart from the obvious unmasking of the farcical nature of bourgeoise parliamentary politics, the presidential elections have another significance.

The working class are not interested in the useless infighting between the bourgeoisie. But what significance the elections really do hold, is for preparing for a future of struggle. The worst nightmare for the Indian working class would be an empowered and capable Congress which can freely steam roll its way through with its pro-capitalist policies. That possibility would be much stronger now, if its able to win the presidential elections. We must prepare for the next 2 years when we will face increased attacks upon the working class and peasants. A vicious unleashing of expansionist capitalism aiming to deprive the masses of india, would be awaiting. The presidential elections in essence would become a bugle to unleash Indian capitalism’s Hounds of war.

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