There is a serious constitutional issue thrown up by the Amravati constituency poll in the Maharashtra assembly elections. President Patil's son, Mr Rajendra Shekawat, is the Congress party candidate in that constituency. Nobody can take objection to that. Being the President's kin should not impede Mr Shekawat's political career.
However during a campaign meeting a local Congress leader, Bhau Saheb Dhere, claimed in his speech that the President should be credited for bringing two trains to Amravati and for reviving the defunct Finlay Mills. Congress leaders are stressing to the voters that by electing the President’s son they would help Amravati with rapid development.
Last Sunday the President’s son himself claimed in a campaign speech that he had started the train services and the Finlay Mills. Since Mr Shekawat holds no official position he was clearly implying that he had been instrumental for using the President’s influence to render this service to Amravati.
Should the President be participating even indirectly in election campaigns? As far as this scribe is concerned he has always held that our written Constitution is grossly misinterpreted. Its written text clearly gives the President powers and responsibilities that impel an activist political role. However this view reflects a minority of one. The overwhelming view consistently stressed is that the President like the British Sovereign is a titular head devoid of any political role.
How do those who cling to this view accept the President’s name being dragged as a partisan into a fiercely political election? If the President's name is being dragged in without her consent should she not speak up and contradict the Congress leaders and her son for claiming that she was instrumental in bringing two trains to Amravati and starting the Finlay Mills in order to quicken development in her son’s electoral constituency?
One waits for the reactions of the President and of the galaxy of constitutional experts who fiercely maintain that the President is a mere titular head.