Needed: people’s President
Ahead of the presidential elections next month, a debate is raging on the kind of President a vibrant democracy like India needs. Outside the political parties, which are mustering support for their respective candidates, there seems to be a politician fatigue. This is due to the 'negative connotation' that the word 'politics' carries as well as the failure of politicians to see a national perspective.
Opinion is divided on the role of the President, particularly in the context of coalition governments. But constitutional experts agree the President should either be a “non-politician” or at least a “positive politician”.
Comparing the Indian President’s role with that of the Queen of England, constitutional expert KK Venugopal says, “Like the Queen of England, the Indian President has no executive powers. But he has a role to advise and caution. He is a father figure who advises the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers. Therefore, he must be a statesman who has common sense, is an intellectual and, more importantly, has a heart which bleeds for the poor.”
Venugopal feels the negative connotation of politics has made people averse to politician-Presidents. “But a person in politics who is a statesman, wise, puts national interest above petty politics and is a positive politician is acceptable,” Venugopal says.
While Venugopal feels the era of coalition politics should not make any “qualitative difference” to the role of a President, since he counsels the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers and not individual parties, CS Vaidyanathan, formerly Additional Solicitor General, thinks coalition politics puts a greater responsibility on the President.
“In the absence of a majority for any party, it is vital that the President acts dispassionately and is above partisan consideration. But there are enough examples when Presidents have ignored national interest. The most shocking is the assent to the imposition of Emergency,” Vaidyanathan says.
He says a politician in Rashtrapati Bhawan would be “counter-productive”. While others refrained from naming anyone, Vaidyanathan feels President APJ Abdul Kalam fits the bill for being wise, apolitical and a people’s President.
Contrary to the perception that the President is powerless, Dr NM Ghatate, formerly vice-chairman of the Law Commission, says the President has a very important role. “People want a thinking President who uses his wisdom in the interest of the country. Political parties want a rubber stamp President who would go along with the unconstitutional decisions of the government of the day. A President should be what the people want and need and not one thrust by the politicians and political parties,” Ghatate says.
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In good news for movie and short film buffs, the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival (BISFF) is back this year with a plethora of films competing in various sections. The festival began August 4 and will run till August 14. This is the 12th edition of the festival and will run across two venues - the Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy, and the Goethe-Institut, or Max Mueller Bhavan. Short films will begin screening August 11.
The Karnataka government has decided to give 'Revenue village' status to the Thandas of 'Lambani' tribes and hamlets of 'Kurubas' so that they can avail themselves of the benefits of all government schemes. “We have decided to give Revenue village status to 3,526 'Thanda' and 'Kurubarahatti' belonging to Lambanis and other backward communities. Preliminary notification has been issued. Finally notification will come out later,” Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka told reporters on Monday.
Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Police on Monday said it did not have any information to indicate that Noida resident Shrikant Tyagi was in the state. Director general of police Ashok Kumar said the Uttarakhand Police was yet to receive any communication from UP police in the matter. “If they do get in touch, we will coordinate with them,” Kumar said.
The much-awaited cabinet expansion of the Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra is likely to take place on Tuesday. The cabinet currently comprises Shinde and Fadnavis. Shinde took the charge of the top post, after rebelling against his former boss Uddhav Thackeray, along with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy on June 30. This was a day after the Shiv Sena supremo resigned as Shinde led a major rebellion in the Sena ranks from BJP-ruled Assam.
One person died and two others were injured in a flash flood after a cloud burst in Chamba district's Salooni tehsil around Sunday midnight. Three houses were damaged in the flooding, while a resident, Vijay Kumar, was buried in the debris. Three water mills (gharats) and a bailey bridge linking Salehi village to Kandhwara were damaged in the flooding. Five cow sheds and 10 vehicles were also damaged in the flash flood.