Why The President Will Matter In 2014

Pranab Mukherjee was sworn in the 13th President of India today. He was most recently the Finance Minister of India and the number two minister in the Congress Party after the Prime Minister. Mukherjee's eagerness to become the President and the politicking that went into the process was unusual and might appear strange.

In India's Parliamentary system of democracy, members of parliament are all powerful and the Prime Minister elected by majority in parliament is the head of state. The President is considered a rubber stamp whose role is limited to making speeches, maintaining foregin relations, signing bills approved by parliament into law and, at the end of the general election, inviting the largest party to form the government. His or her role is not unlike that of the Queen of England.

However, by getting Mukherjee into Rashtrapati Bhavan (the Presidential Palace), the Congress Party has achieved a major victory. The power of the President to invite the single largest party to form the government at the end of the election is likely to be crucial in the next Indian general election in 2014.

India's political landscape has never appeared more fragmented. The ruling Congress Party is likely to suffer a major defeat in the 2014 elections. Post Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh, the Congress does not have a major visible national leader. The likes of Jayaram Ramesh, Kamal Nath, Chidambaram, A K Anthony and Salman Khurshid do not have the appeal to take the party through to victory. Rahul Gandhi the nepotistic inheritor of the Congress party has not demonstrated competence or credibility.

On the other side, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a complete mess. The only leader worth his salt is Narendra Modi, current Chief Minister of Gujarat. Modi is a lone ranger and is in practical terms a party unto himself. It is highly unlikely that he well get the support of the other national leaders within the BJP. So in a way, Modi can be considered head of a successful regional party in Gujarat and not a national leader of the BJP. The rest of the BJP is in complete disarray.

Like Modi, there are several strong leaders at the state level in India. Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu, Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, Biju Patnaik in Orissa, Nitesh Kumar in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh etc.

India's experience with a third front government in the past has been unpleasant. However, it appears that a third front government in 2014 is inevitable. The likelihood is a coalition of the willing supported by the BJP or the Congress from outside. In such a scenario, the Prime Minister and the cabinet might change every 6 months or 1 year. This is where the role of the President will become paramount.

The fight will be between the Congress and the BJP to support a coalition of the willing from outside the government. A Congress leaning President can then tip the scales in favor of the Congress. The Indian political theatre never fails to amuse and entertain. The repercussions of this theatre impact the lives of more than a billion people. As an investor in India, it is critical for one to watch and understand the goings on of India's politics. Watch this space for further updates as things unfold.

Pranab Mukherjee was sworn in the 13th President of India today. He was most recently the Finance Minister of India and the number two minister in the Congress Party after the Prime Minister. Mukherjee's eagerness to become the President and the politicking that went into the process was unusual and might appear strange.

In India's Parliamentary system of democracy, members of parliament are all powerful and the Prime Minister elected by majority in parliament is the head of state. The President is considered a rubber stamp whose role is limited to making speeches, maintaining foregin relations, signing bills approved by parliament into law and, at the end of the general election, inviting the largest party to form the government. His or her role is not unlike that of the Queen of England.

However, by getting Mukherjee into Rashtrapati Bhavan (the Presidential Palace), the Congress Party has achieved a major victory. The power of the President to invite the single largest party to form the government at the end of the election is likely to be crucial in the next Indian general election in 2014.

India's political landscape has never appeared more fragmented. The ruling Congress Party is likely to suffer a major defeat in the 2014 elections. Post Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh, the Congress does not have a major visible national leader. The likes of Jayaram Ramesh, Kamal Nath, Chidambaram, A K Anthony and Salman Khurshid do not have the appeal to take the party through to victory. Rahul Gandhi the nepotistic inheritor of the Congress party has not demonstrated competence or credibility.

On the other side, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a complete mess. The only leader worth his salt is Narendra Modi, current Chief Minister of Gujarat. Modi is a lone ranger and is in practical terms a party unto himself. It is highly unlikely that he well get the support of the other national leaders within the BJP. So in a way, Modi can be considered head of a successful regional party in Gujarat and not a national leader of the BJP. The rest of the BJP is in complete disarray.

Like Modi, there are several strong leaders at the state level in India. Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu, Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, Biju Patnaik in Orissa, Nitesh Kumar in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh etc.
 
India's experience with a third front government in the past has been unpleasant. However, it appears that a third front government in 2014 is inevitable. The likelihood is a coalition of the willing supported by the BJP or the Congress from outside. In such a scenario, the Prime Minister and the cabinet might change every 6 months or 1 year. This is where the role of the President will become paramount.

The fight will be between the Congress and the BJP to support a coalition of the willing from outside the government. A Congress leaning President can then tip the scales in favor of the Congress.

The Indian political theatre never fails to amuse and entertain. The repercussions of this theatre impact the lives of more than a billion people. As an investor in India, it is critical for one to watch and understand the goings on of India's politics.
Watch this space for further updates as things unfold.
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