At the moment, there seem to be, two serious contenders for the post of President of India, falling vacant in late July 2012. The Congress party, the major partner in the ruling UPA has shortlisted these two names and will soon decide its candidate in consultation with its other ruling partners. The two names are of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari.
Pranab Mukherjee is a politician of long standing and started his political career as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1969. He had the distinction of being elected again in 1975, 1981, 1993 and 1999 to the Rajya Sabha.In 2004 he won the Lok Sabha election for the first time. In 1973, he became a Union Deputy Minister for Industrial Development in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet. He was the Finance Minister during 1982 and 1984, when Dr Manmohan Singh was Reserve Bank of India’s Governor. He faced rough weather during Rajiv Gandhi’s Premiership. In fact from 1986 to 1989 he was out of the Congress party and had formed his own party Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress which merged into the Congress during P V Narsimha Rao’s Premiership and he was appointed the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.
In his long career he has held the portfolios of Finance, External Affairs, Defence, Revenue, Shipping, Communication, Economic Affairs, Commerce and Industry, Transport. etc. He has held high posts within the party both in Bengal and Delhi. He has very good rapport with other political party members and is a very effective negotiator He has very sound knowledge of Parliamentryprocedures and was voted as the Outstanding Parliamentarian in 1997. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. He is married and has two sons and a daughter.
The other contender for the President’s post is Mohammad Hamid Ansari, currently the country’s twelth Vice President. He was born on April 1,1937 in Kolkatta and is the grand nephew of the eminent freedom fighter Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari. He started his career as a civil servant in the Indian Foreign Service in 961. He served as ambassador to Australia, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and was a Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations. He also served as the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University for two years from 2000 to 2002.
He has also served as the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. He assumed the office of Vice President on August 11, 2007. The diplomat and academician has conducted himself with dignity as Vice President. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1984.
As can be seen the race is between a seasoned politician and a diplomat cum academician, who is also serving as a Vice President. Normally, the VP should become the President. But it is generally not followed. The different political alliances are working to try for their candidate to assume the largely ceremonial office. Since two days, political chess game is throwing up other names also. But chances are that one of the two names mentioned here will be make it to the Rashtrapati Bhawan in July.