Just today (June 16, 2007), The Hindu reported that that NDA (the BJP and collected parties etc) would not support the presidential nominee of Pratibha Patil saying “The gender issue [raised by the congress] was only a mask and the sole reason for declaring Ms. Patil’s candidature was caste consideration.” And just when people reject the BJP and call it bigoted or close minded, see what the congress etc have to say about this: “Any political party, which has even a minimum commitment to the cause of women would come forward to support the UPA in this historic initiative. It is obvious that the BJP is so bereft of ideology or commitment that it cannot bring itself to overcome internal contradictions and hostility to support an eminent woman candidate.” And like almost always in Indian politics, they are highlighting identity issues rather than capability issues and BOTH ARE WRONG!
Just because we have a woman nominee for president doesn’t mean that the Patil would make a good president, help the cause of women, or even that the Congress has done anything good for the cause of women the country. For instance, the problem of farmer suicides in the country has almost entirely ignored the long-term plight of wives who have picked up after the pieces of their husbands, live in eternal debt as they attempt to take care of their children and livelihood. Having a woman president does not change anything for women, just like our earlier Dalit president hadn’t improved the plight of Dalits in the country, nor could Abdul Kalam help the Muslims.
Yet by responding the way they have, the BJP etc have shown truly how close-minded they are by worrying about the fact that the nomination is caste based. Without considering the important issues as stake here, BJP etc continue to make religion the issue, ignoring the real suffering that needs to be addressed. Of course the irony is that if their possible nominee Shekhawat runs, that too will be a caste-based moved (Thakur). Incidentally, the Shiv Sena who have applauded the nomination have done so for identity reasons, that she is Maharashtran! woman.
We’ve seen the BJP in power for long enough (in several states and the country) to know that they too are no better than the Congress in solving the nations problems. They are truly bereft of agenda, and attempt only to garner emotional support (fervor) for their cause to get into power… and when they do (as they did earlier)… they had themselves resorted to appointing a Muslim President for almost the same reason as the Congress, to garner popular cross-party identity-based support.
So what am I trying to say? Let us see the sham that this nomination of a woman president really is. Like Kalam earlier, it’s a political move that is meant to pay divides for the party stock (even today BJP claims credit for appointing Kalam as a ‘good’ president). And in India, where politics is linked to identity of the candidate, the President is the ultimate symbol of a parties vote aspirations (trying to woo a section of people) while following it’s own agenda within closed-doors without actual desire for the upliftment of the people they are claiming to care about.