May 23, 2018, 10:43 am IST
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UPA’s many options

UPA’s many options

 Jun 23, 2017

After absorbing the shock of the NDA alliance’s surprise selection of the Presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, the opposition UPA alliance have gone into a deep and intense search for a suitable opponent for the post.

Carrying all the partners along is part of the problem, and zeroing down on the denominational configuration is another part of it. The regional and sectional interests have to be kept in mind. But the NDA’ need to select a Dalit candidate has made their task that much easier. They now have to select a matching person who also belongs to this denominattion.

Here also the NDA’s task has been cut out. The combine has many eminent persons to chose from. For instance, Ms. Meira Kumar, a former Speaker and the daughter of Jagjivan Ram, who is also a Dalit, had the added advantage of her gender. She is also more experienced and has the finesse to get along with all factions and groups. So that promises to be a good choice.

There is also a school of thought that a Dalit leader of similar standing from another region than the Hindi belt could provide a good fight. In his context the name of Sushil Kumar Shinde is being mentioned. He had been a Home Minister and he comes from Maharashtra and that has a substantial voting strength. In fact the entire western region would opt for him, according UPA’s calculation.

This move could also be used to drive a wedge between the NDAs allies, especially the Shiv Sena which might opt for Mr. Shinde. Slowly, they could nibble away at the rival alliance’s seemingly impregnable base. The southern factor is another and here the Tamil Nadu might play a critical role. The unsettled condition in that state’s political space also has enough scope for the UPA to exploit to its advantage. And they are past masters in this game of backstage manipulations.

Compared to Mr. Kovind, who is a novice in the national politics, the other two are veterans and are familiar faces across the country. Thus they have pan-Indian appeal and presence.

Another name that is being talked about in this context is that of the ‘Metro man’, Mr. E. Sridharan. He is non-controversial and low key and would bring all his managerial expertise to the office. It is a long time since a non-political and quietly efficient person has occupied that chair. He would also bring a quiet dignity as well as heft to the post.

With some more days left for the picture to become clear it is it is interesting to watch the developments. The NDA had sprung a surprise all right but the last word has not been said yet, it would seem.

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