Onus on President Patil to exercise political neutrality post polls

May 15th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, May 15 (ANI): With the political pendulum swinging from one coalition to the next given the expected fractured verdict in the 2009 general elections, the onus will be on President Pratibha Devisingh Patil to exercise neutrality in government selection.

As a hung Parliament is widely expected, Patil will have three options:

(1) Invite the single largest party

(2) Invite the single largest pre-poll alliance

(3) Invite the largest post-poll formation with letters of support

According to sources in Rashtrapati Bhavan, Patil is being briefed about what her predecessors in office did in similar situations.

In 1989, President R. Venkatraman invited the single largest party, the Congress, which declined. VP Singh then formed the National Front government with support from the Left and the BJP.

Again in 1996, President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited the single largest party, the BJP, the government lasted a mere 13 days.

However, the most pertinent precedent was in 1998 when President K R Narayanan insisted Vajpayee produce letters of support before appointing him Prime minister.

Which is why the BJP’s stand this week is so important. They want President Patil to invite the single largest pre-poll formation first.

“The president must call the single largest poll formation and the single largest party,” said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press conference.

Not wanting to be out maneouvered by the BJP’s stand, the Congress is focusing on getting letters of support, rather than wait and see who the President invites first.

“We leave it to the President,” said Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Who the President invites first to form the government is critical. Will it be the single largest party? In which case smaller parties could gravitate towards it. Or will she invite the largest alliance?

Constitutional experts say it will be President Patil’s discretion, but the prime minister must convince her that he will be able to win a vote of confidence.(ANI)

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