Ordinance: Did we ignore the role of our President?

Ordinance: Only Rahul and no Pranab?
Bangalore, Oct 4: It was baffling to see a section of the Indian media and society going overboard, hailing one individual as the savior of the world's largest democracy. The fact that an elite institution in the democracy, known as the presidency, played a big role in saving the nation from a disgrace, was completely under-represented.

The focus during the ordinance drama remained on Rahul Gandhi, an MP, and Manmohan Singh, the prime minister (necessarily in that order) and the former stole the show as a sort of messiah who came, saw and conquered a press conference.

All praise for Rahul Gandhi, no words for President Mukherjee?

But none really spoke about how the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, despite his constitutional limitations, rose to the occasion and acted as the conscience-keeper of the Indian State and the government. Those who are reacting so much at what Rahul Gandhi did and how much better he could have dealt with it, they should also have spared a word or two for the president for it was him who had raised the important question.

President didn't make a public stunt but played a powerful role

The impact of the presidential concern over the controversial ordinance has been so much so that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has reportedly asked her party leaders and parliamentarians not to push ordinances in future without taking the president into confidence first.

The president cared about the Constitution and did not make a public stunt

Institutions matter for a democracy, not individuals

Rahul Gandhi's ‘pyrotechnics' of September 27 was perhaps more TRP-friendly, but it was the president who had played the more formal and decisive role to stop the government from going ahead with the ordinance. Popular democracies are ultimately served best by credible institutions (read Supreme Court, presidency) and not by individuals.

Rahul's vocabulary is more important than the president's activism?

More than whether Rahul Gandhi has developed as a mature individual with the knowledge about the right political vocabulary, the important issue is whether Pranab Mukherjee has asserted himself as a pro-active president who will not toe the government's line each time the latter takes one.

President protected the constitutional spirit

The president raised objection to the said ordinance on constitutional grounds and not just called it trash as a public gesture. The man took care of the Constitution's honour while the 43-year-old MP left his own prime minister humiliated.

President didn't take the collision route

The president also did not want to make his objection an open issue while Gandhi openly decided to dump his own government. President Mukherjee did a commendable job in not opting for a collision course with the government and preferred discussion with the latter before an ordinance was sent for his ascent.

Reports on whether Rahul Gandhi's mother said that his words were harsh or his party felt that his heroism would boost his image are of little sense. The tragedy of the Indian democracy is that at the end of the day, an elite individual prevailed over a collective leadership while an institution that played a major role in upholding the law and spirit of the land remained secondary in public glare.

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