New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Has the coming presidential election also to do with choice of citizens or is it a matter to be left to the high commands of various political parties?
Participants in a symposium at the India International Centre (IIC) complex here strongly pitched for people exerting influence on their elected representatives to choose a presidential candidate who has proven ability, transparent integrity and capability to take objective and impartial decisions.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C. Kashyap said elected representatives should take into account views of people in their constituencies while exercising choice in the presidential election in which voting is secret.
He said parliamentarians and legislators, who constitute the electoral college of the presidential election, look for the nod of high commands.
The elected representatives must talk to people and find out about their choice. Public pressure should be exerted, Kashyap said, adding that any whip issued by a political party in a presidential election did not have a legal force.
Voting will be secret. No one can know... There is no constraint to vote for candidate nominated by the high command, Kashyap said.
The symposium 'The Presidential Election - 2012: Citizen's concerns and expectations', organised by Forum for Good Governance along with 16 other institutions, comes against the backdrop of political churning for the presidential poll, expected to take place next month.
The Congress has called a meeting of its working committee June 4 and is likely to have another round of consultations with its allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to finalise its presidential nominee.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also intending to call a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders. Nationalist Congress Party leader P.A. Sangma has already thrown his hat in the poll ring.
He said the president was not a titular rubber stamp.
In case the government loses vote of confidence, the president has to decide. It is wrong to say the president is always bound by the advice of the council of ministers. For appointment of prime minister, he cannot go by advice of outgoing government, Kashyap said.
He said the executive power vests in the president and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him.
The president is also the supreme commander of armed forces. President is part of parliament as no bill can become law unless he gives his assent, Kashyap said.
He said the symposium was a non-party forum and was not in favour of or against a candidate.
Lt. Gen. (retd) Vijay Oberoi said presidential candidate should not be selected on the basis of caste, creed or religion and should be a person having knowledge of the ethos of armed forces.
He said that presidential candidate should be benefactor, friend, philosopher and guide to armed forces. If not, divest him of that post (supreme commander), he said.
Former parliamentarian B.B. Dutta said presidential candidate should be a person having qualities of statesman.
Dutta did not agree with suggestions that the symposium should name persons suited for the post of president.
Among those who participated in the symposium were former parliamentarian Kapila Vatsyayan and Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.
Kashyap said the symposium intends to adopt a consensus which will be sent to all members of the electoral college for the presidential poll.