Sir — The editorial, “Do the republic proud” (May 26), emphasizes the fact that it is imperative on the part of elected representatives to preserve the sanctity of Parliament and asserts that this is ceasing to be the case. Two factors have been cited for this. First, the Congress is unsure of its own choice of the presidential candidate on account of the sparring that is going on with its allies. For instance, the Trinamul Congress chief, who is now in an advantageous position because of the strength of her party in Parliament, is in the habit of issuing diktats to the government on this issue.
The position of the president of the republic is largely an ornamental post. The president is entitled to raise objections before signing a particular bill. But, ultimately, it is the prime minister and his cabinet ministers who rule the roost. This perhaps explains why there is a clamour amongst various parties for the abolition of posts like those of the president and the governor.
It is the duty of the elected representatives to do the Parliament proud. Scenes like rushing to the well of the House cannot be tolerated. The dignity and the sanctity of Parliament must be preserved at all costs.
P.B. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — It would be extremely nice if P.A. Sangma, the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, gets elected to the post of president (“Sangma soldiers on, knocks on Modi”, May 22). There can be no doubt about his merit, intellect and experience. Sangma is still remembered as an extremely efficient Speaker. However, his religious affiliation or tribal status should not be the reason behind the proposal to elect him as president. On one hand, we assert that as Indians we believe in equality. On the other, right from issuing tickets for panchayat elections to the nomination of the president, the race, religion and caste of the prospective candidates are readily invoked. It would indeed be a matter of great pride for innumerable people to see Sangma as India’s next president. But it is is sad to see the former Speaker himself bandying about his tribal tag to win the presidential race. Perhaps Sangma too has been influenced by the culture of votebank politics. Merit should be the only determining factor while electing the president.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — The 14th presidential election is imminent. Political heavyweights are running from pillar to post to muster support for their candidates. The Nationalist Congress Party leader, P.A.Sangma, is trying to gain political mileage by projecting himself as an “independent tribal” candidate. Pranab Mukherjee is supposedly in the fray, and there are whispers that his son is campaigning for him. The situation has become such that it will be an uphill task for Sonia Gandhi to nominate someone loyal to the Congress.
It is a cause of concern that the republic has not seen presidents of the stature of Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan or Zakir Hussain in recent times. The government at the Centre has always been instrumental in reducing the importance of the office of the president for political reasons. Zail Singh, it is alleged, had served as a ‘rubber stamp’ president during the reign of Indira Gandhi.
Politicians do not prefer a president who is apolitical, erudite and one who commands respect. A selection committee comprising eminent personalities from all walks of life — academics, scientists and senior politicians — should nominate the candidate for the president’s post. What also needs to be examined is whether the ceremonial office of the president ought to be retained any longer.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Burdwan
Sir — The president is supposed to be apolitical. But for all practical purposes, this is not the case anymore.
The president should be more than a mere nominal head. He or she should actively participate in the process of decision making. The ideal candidate for the post of president should be someone who is meritorious but, at the same time, prefers to stay out of the limelight.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi