DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI comments on the BJP’s take on Mr. Hamid Ansari’s stature as a potential candidate for the upcoming Presidential poll.
In the backdrop of the oncoming Presidential poll in June or July, the political atmosphere is getting not only hotter and hotter but also murkier and murkier day by day in the national capital.
Mr Hamid Ansari’s name is doing rounds. The question doing faster rounds in the minds of the Muslims of India is: Shall he prove a different Muslim President?
By and large – it is believed – all the Presidents just dot the Is and cross the Ts of the ruling party or the cabinet. But this weakness happens to be greater among the Muslim Presidents, who perhaps feel compelled to keep the ruling conglomerate and sections of the main Opposition party in good humour.
Otherwise how would you explain the avoidable touching the feet of the Shankaracharya by Dr. Zakir Husain?
First, each and every Muslim high-up, be he a President or Minister, feels uncomfortable in taking any bold steps in favour of the minority he belongs to.
It is the sheer timidity of the Muslim dignitaries who find no alternative to kowtowing the undeclared official line.
Otherwise how would you rationalise or philosophise the Emergency declaration by Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed? Was he not in a position to politely ask Mrs. G to please just have a dispassionate second look at the awesome piece of paper?
It is in this context that they ask: Will Mr. Hamid Ansari prove a different Muslim President?
Ideally there should not be contest for the post of the Head of the State, who also happens to be the Commander-in-Chief of Air Force, Navy and Military. But the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, years ago, broke this healthy tradition by getting elected Mr. V.V. Giri against Mr. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, just to prove her supremacy over what was then called “syndicate” made by four political thugs of the country.
The wizened Saffron represented by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now trying to float the impression that it is also for consensus. But it is far from the truth. Mere contact with the regional parties cannot alter the ground reality, which is that there is little common between the BJP and the regional outfits. They are neither natural allies nor strategic partners. Nor do they happen to be fellow-travellers. It is a futile essay in brinkmanship.
This is happening understandably after the well-considered remark Ms. Sushma Swaraj used against the Vice-President. To quote her: Mr. Hamid Ansari did not have the “stature of the President.” After this historic baseness, let’s respectfully ask the less-than-elegant lady: What is your opinion about yourself? Incidentally, this venomous arrow was shot to keep the BJP alliance intact. But it backfired. First, Mr. Sharad Yadav of the JDU distanced himself from the alliance. Then followed others like Mr. Nitish Kumar. The Left took strong exception to be bilge.
VERTICALLY & HORIZONTALLY
As the matters stand, the NDA alliance stands divided and sub-divided, both vertically and horizontally. As far as the electoral arithmetic is concerned, the total number of votes in the Electoral College is: 10,98,82. In it, the Congress has 3,30,945, that is 30 per cent. The UPA as a whole has 4,46,345 or 41 per cent. If you add outside support to the UPA figures, it comes to about 5,80,326, that is 53 per cent.
The discussion would remain incomplete if we ignore the less-than-dependable Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and two fickle-minded ladies, Ms. Mamata and Ms. Mayawati. Mr. Yadav has 68,768 or 6 per cent votes in the Electoral College while Ms. Mamata and Ms. Mayawati have 47,890 that is 4 per cent and 43,723, that comes to around 4 per cent respectively.
The situation continues to be fluid even now. But it should not distract our attention from the real question with regard to Mr. Hamid Ansari’s stature in the eyes of the BJP. Equally important is the question of general expectations from Mr. Ansari as Head of the State.
Mr. Ansari is an eminent Indian Muslim with spotless carrier as a diplomat as well as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Mr. Ansari served in Indian missions in Baghdad, Rabat, Jeddah and Brussels. He had been High Commissioner in Australia and Ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran.
To his credit also goes serving the Government in the capacity of the Chief of Protocol to the Government of India.
He also served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He had been Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Visiting Professor at Centre for West Asian and African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and also at the Academy for the Third World Studies to the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
He happened to be a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation New Delhi, and Co-Chairman India-UK Round Table.
He had been a member of the National Security Advisory Board and Chairman Advisory Committee for Oil Diplomacy, Chairman of Fifth Statutory National Commission for Minorities, and Chairman Working Group of Confidence Building Measures across segments of society in the state.
He authored Travelling Through Conflict: Essays on the Politics of West Asia and edited Iran Today, 25 Years after the Islamic Revolution.
Is Ms Sushma Swaraj listening?
Sources close to Mr. Ansari say he is confidant of himself. He hardly needs speech-writers. He is a dynamo on two legs. If elected, he is bound to make a Secular-President.
Muslims in general do not expect him to focus Muslim case at the official fora. But they do expect him to remove the misunderstanding about Muslims as an ideological minority.
The Muslims would feel proud of themselves at his elevation. More strength to