Droupadi’s Dharmayudha with Yashwant


Droupadi Murmu and Yashwant Sinha

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By Manish Anand

Dust has settled after an initial quality check exercise on the NDA and Opposition Presidential nominees Droupadi Murmu and Yashwant Sinha respectively, and now their generals will march out in the battlefield.

The Office of the President of India is an institution. The occupants have to prove worthy of the office.

Both Droupadi Murmu and Yashwant Sinha seem worthy to be the President of India.

If Droupadi Murmu becomes the President of India, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the BJP-government, which looks more evident, will have no worries from the Rashtrapati Bhavan even if the Constitutional conventions here and there get breached.

If Yashwant Sinha wins the Presidential election, Rashtrapati Bhavan will make the Narendra Modi-led government lame-duck.

The people haven’t yet heard from Droupadi Murmu about her views on the Presidential election. She hasn’t yet also addressed the media. She is not expected to give media interviews. So, the people will have to settle with her photographs.

Yashwant Sinha has said that the Presidential election is a battle of ideologies.

The largest Opposition party Congress has also said that the Presidential election is a battle of ideologies.

So, it gets to Dharmayudha. But no one knows who are Pandavas and Kauravas. That classification blurred decades ago in the Indian politics, and the people can make their categorizations as per their conveniences, including their urges to gain instant gratifications to suit their likes and dislikes.

Yashwant Sinha is an ex-BJP. His achievements since 1989 have all been because of his association with the BJP. He helmed the Ministry of Finance at a time when India faced economic turbulence – from balance of payment crisis to the US-led western sanctions against Pokhran-II nuclear tests. His credentials are too high, while a large number of his contemporaries from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Cabinet and that of Chandrashekhar aren’t around.

In fact, the Indian politics is no more amenable to octogenarians. There are too few of them in active politics, and none from the ranks of the BJP.

He could have made a graceful exit from politics, and allowed his son Jayant Sinha to inherit his legacy.

But he’s an exceptional father who’s training his son with fire-skills.

The cushion on the sofa of Yashwant Sinha’s father reads ‘anyone can become a father, but one has to be extraordinary for an exceptional son’.

Droupadi Murmu represents India’s tribal population. A large swathe of land inhabited by tribal in the country has been on warpath against India. The youth, ideologically mentored by elders from all communities, have been waging war against the state in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana and a couple of districts in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

With Droupadi Murmu, India will seek to demonstrate that its Constitution and democracy are all-inclusive, and can address aspirations of all the communities. The message with her election would be that the tribal youth should drop the guns and join the mainstream, and they should benefit from the ripple effect or the top-down spread of the benefits of the development model of the economy pursued by the country.

Unlike Dalits, the tribal population hasn’t to a great extent gained from the benefits of the reservation in the government services and the educational institutions. The benefits have largely gone to a select few tribes in certain pockets.

Tribal population in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal have largely been left out of the trickle-down effect of the reservation policy pursued by the government, which gets further stunted by the bogus creamy income layer criteria, which fails to eliminate the already benefited class so that others can join them.

On paper, Yashwant Sinha is a clear loser, as the arithmetic doesn’t work in his favour. The BJP would have wanted him to make a graceful exit from the Presidential election.

But if it’s Dharmayudh, then the class and caste of the opponent shouldn’t matter, for the larger issues being raised by the Opposition are at stakes.

Even if the outcome of the election is one-sided, the Opposition can still come out winner if its constituents figure it out that the Indian democracy has moved beyond the pulls and pressures of the 1990s, and they need to rediscover themselves.

Yashwant Sinha can look for that role of a Sarathi for the Opposition.

(Opinions expressed in this article completely belong to the author)

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