Presidential election 2017: Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has said that Congress lost in the game of tactics versus the BJP by nominating Meira Kumar as the opposition’s candidate after the saffron party had already picked Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind for the upcoming poll. Congress delayed the announcement of Kumar’s name, giving BJP the benefit of the “first move”, according to Sen.
The BJP first announced the name of then Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA candidate for the poll and his election looks almost certain. Sen writes in The Indian Express, “Had she been put forward earlier as the well thought-out strategic choice of someone coming from a Dalit background, and having important political experience and vision, she could have attracted much more support than she would now be able to get as a belated tactical choice, after the BJP had already locked up quick support for their own Dalit candidate.”
Sen also rues Congress-led opposition’s failure to put up a “visionary candidate” for the election. “The opposition remained inert, waiting for the BJP to make the first move,” he writes, adding, “The Congress, as the inheritor of Mahatma Gandhi’s tradition, could have gone for an intelligent strategy with national appeal. The much-aired name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who has great intellectual and evocative strength to animate political discussion about the right vision for India, did not evidently suit the present thinking of the Congress.”
Sen says the Congress turned the Presidential election into a contest of “tactics” instead of “strategies”. “But at the tactical level, the BJP has proved itself, again and again, to be much smarter than the Congress,” the scholar writes citing examples of the recent Goa and Manipur Assembly elections where BJP formed both governments with “smart and quick alliances” even after coming second to the Congress in terms of numbers.
The Presidential election 2017 is scheduled to take place on July 17.
Sen’s article “Towards Unfreedom” is heavily critical of the present government and prevailing situation in the country. Sen claims, “The country that welcomed people fleeing persecution abroad, and allowed the immigrating minorities to have their own beliefs and practices (and food habits), now harbours gangs of wild men hunting down beef-eaters, and killing people — very poor people — whose employment in the leather industry arouses the suspicion of faithful believers in the holiness of the cow.”
Sen cites several other examples such as CBI raid on NDTV owners and fake sedition charges against some people for allegedly supporting Pakistan in a cricket match etc. to claim that the “country is made to descend down the ladder of intolerance and unfreedom” under the present BJP-led government at the Centre.
Sen says, “In the suppression of India’s tolerant tradition, the ruling party, the BJP, has clearly played a gigantic role.”