As India gears up for Presidential Elections 2017, the tension in the air is thick enough to cut with a knife. The Election Commission (EC) of India opened the nomination filing process for the election of the 14th President of India on Wednesday. While June 28, has been stipulated as the last date for filing nominations, the election will be held on July 17 and results will be announced on July 20.
President Pranab Mukherjee assumed office as the 13th President of India on July 25, 2012. His term ends this July after serving for five years. The BJP-led Centre and Congress-led Opposition parties are on the search for their respective Presidential candidates. Even though no names have been officially declared, several names have been doing the rounds. Under the current system in place, however, the elections will not be held if both camps come to a consensus about a candidate.
The Congress is reportedly supporting the possibility of a second term for President Pranab Mukherjee, who has said he will consider it only if the government asks him, according to NDTV.
Presenting to you a look at the top 10 probable contenders running the race to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan next:
1. Sushma Swaraj
According to a News18 report, the External Affairs minister has emerged as a top probable NDA Presidential candidate, the frontrunner after deliberations by the BJP’s panel. She is one of the senior-most leaders in the BJP. She was also the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. “The first reason that makes Swaraj a favourite for the post is that her nomination would easily break Opposition unity….as minister she has adopted the persona of mom-in-chief to countless stranded Indians across the globe, by turns warm, firm and funny, as she responds to everything from requests for visas to ‘bring-me-back-home’ pleas from an abused wife,” said Barkha Dutt in an HT piece.
2. E Sreedharan
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is a retired Indian Engineering Service (IES) officer popularly known as the “Metro Man”. Known for leading the successful Delhi Metro project and now the Kochi metro, he was reported as a possible NDA candidate for the election. The exclusion of Sreedharan’s name from the list of VVIPs to be present on the dais along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate Kochi Metro had created a huge uproar in political circles as well as on social media. The PMO has now included the Metro Man among the list of dignitaries, India Today reported on Friday. There is a strong possibility of his name being announced as NDA’s Presidential candidate, the report said. But as per a recent report, the Metro Man has refuted the claim.
3. Sumitra Mahajan
The 16th Lok Sabha speaker could be a contender for the President’s post from the NDA camp, Indian Express reported. An MP from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Mahajan is at present the Lok Sabha Speaker. Her political career began in 1984 as the Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation in Indore. In 1989, she contested in the Lok Sabha elections for the first time and won a seat for herself. She is the longest-serving woman member of the Parliament, elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 for the eighth time. She is the second woman to hold the post of the Lok Speaker speaker, the first being Meira Kumar.
4. Thawar Chand Gehlot
Thawar Chand Gehlot, who currently serves as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment in the Modi ministry, is a Dalit leader from Madhya Pradesh. He is member of the Rajya Sabha and formerly represented Shajapur in the Lok Sabha from 1996 to 2009. A Firstpost report claimed that Gehlot could possibly be NDA’s Vice-Presidential candidate.
5. Draupadi Murmu
Draupadi Murmu is also one of the leading contenders for the post from the NDA camp, Indian Express revealed. Murmu is at present Jharkhand Governor. She was the Minister of State with independent charge for Commerce and Transport from March 6, 2000 to August 6, 2002 and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from August 6, 2002 to May 16, 2004. She is also the first tribal woman appointed as Governor in India.
6. Gopalkrishna Gandhi
A retired IAS officer and diplomat, he served as the 22nd Governor of West Bengal from 2004 to 2009. He also served as Secretary to the President of India and as High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka. Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi has emerged as the leading candidate to be fielded by the Opposition in the Presidential election. He is also a celebrated author and public intellectual.
7. Kariya Munda
Kariya Munda, former Deputy Speaker of the 15th Lok Sabha, he is now among the senior leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party. Firstpost reported that the tribal leader from Jharkhand has emerged as the prospective candidate. “BJP wants to create history by getting a tribal leader and a Dalit leader into the two posts for the first time and market its outreach to Dalits and tribals as genuine. Barring a last-minute hitch, the two strong candidates to win nomination of NDA-led alliance are Kariya Munda, a former deputy speaker and tribal from Jharkhand who is known for his austere lifestyle and is dyed in RSS ideology,” said Firstpost.
It comes as a surprise that a few reports suggested film star Rajinikanth could be representing the BJP for the Presidential election, according to the Financial Express. Unarguably a nation-wide sensation, the superstar could give the candidates a run for their money.
9. Meira Kumar
A five-time Member of Parliament, she was elected unopposed as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha and served from 2009 to 2014. She is a lawyer and a former diplomat. Prior to being a member of the 15th Lok Sabha, she was elected to the 8th, 11th, 12th and 14th Lok Sabha. She served as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Manmohan Singh’s Congress led Government (2004–2009).
10. Sharad Yadav
The former Janata Dal (United) chief, is current representing the state of Bihar in the Rajya Sabha. He has been elected to Lok Sabha seven times and to Rajya Sabha twice. He met Congress president Sonia Gandhi amid talk of a joint presidential candidate being put up by the opposition, was reported by Indian Express.