RSTV- The Big Picture: President Election: Symbolism V/S Empowerment and Aspirations

  • July 31, 2017
  • 9
The Big Picture- RSTV
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President Election: Symbolism V/S Empowerment and Aspirations


TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

In News: Two Presidential candidates will fight in a dalit vs dalit contest as intended by political classes and portrayed by media. The present government’s dalit calculation is there in nominating a President  elect as Dalit as it would be difficult for other parties to oppose his nomination as caste calculation that form an integral part of Indian politics. This is high on political symbolism in view of opposition’s intent to make an ideological statement. This makes one believe that present Presidential election is fought on ground on symbolism.

In a democracy, consensus is desirable but contest is integral. Former PM Indira Gandhi also asked the legislators to vote as per their conscience as it is a secret ballot for voting in Presidential election. This time it is interesting that both sides have fielded candidates from the oppressed classes.

Difference between both candidates-

Former President Narayanan and present candidate Meira Kumar before coming to politics was in elitist services. Whereas Ram Nath Kovid’s entire life has been part of the social movement. He has 12 years in Rajya Sabha, most of the time, he has concentrated on issues of Dalit welfare and empowerment of dalit. So he has larger acceptability.

Will the symbolism stop?

In this case, the opposition party has fielded the candidate by a way of reaction. This has three inherent flaws

  • The Presidential elections were reduced to a Dalit vs. Dalit contest
  • The lady candidate is a result of political entitlement instead of personal capabilities
  • The division in the ranks of the opposition while announcing the candidate for President from opposition.

Did the plight of Dalits change under dalit President?

There have been Dalit leaders at topmost positions too- Father of Constitution of India Dr. BR Ambedkar and KR Narayanan as President. The present nomination is considered to be a well thought out political move and an attempt of the government to cajole the plight of the Dalits which began declining since suicide of a dalit student in Hyderabad to incidents of mob lynching by ‘gau rakhshaks’.

Although there is a symbolism attached to Kovind’s election, Dalit activists don’t foresee any improvement in the situation of one of India’s most marginalized communities. According to India’s National Human Rights Commission, every 18 minutes a crime is committed against a Dalit, with an average of three Dalit women raped and two murdered every day. Despite strict laws, caste-motivated killings, social exclusion and discrimination against Dalits are a daily occurrence. Thus, a dalit President is merely a political move unless the government takes staunch actions for Dalit empowerment and protection.

Empowerment comes when people identify with their community leaders. There is a need for empowering dalit at a grassroots level. But when someone is attacked, then the dalit identity comes. Then it does not become law and order problem. This mentality needs to be changed.

Political decisions like these are to garner the support for the run up to the upcoming state elections to woo certain communities. The opposition has fielded a candidate which brings support of like of BSP chief. So it is all political in reality.


The President is expected to be follower of constitution and not be ideologically related to any politically party during the tenure. The electoral collage constitutes of representatives of various political politics. The voting pattern is based on party system and not on system of caste. The constitution says that the President shouldn’t be a puppet nor the adversary of the government. The Indian presidency is not an executive presidency but constitutional presidency where the President acts on the advice of the council of ministers led by the PM.

Hence, the identity politics shouldn’t rule over the Presidential elections as after all the President represents the 125 crore Indians and is also the custodian of the constitution and hence the position cannot be limited to identity politics.

Connecting the dots:

  • President is not mere a symbolic post in the Indian republic. Comment.


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