The ongoing presidential campaign has been called the “dirtiest” in the Republic’s history. The Prime Minister and the Congress have called the digging up of Pratibha Patil‘s past as “mud slinging”. But drawing the American analogy, Swapan Dasgupta argues in The Telegraph, Calcutta, today that a thorough background check is the only guarantee against any president being either blackmailed or becoming vulnerable to extraneous pressure.
“Disreputable characters have routinely passed electoral tests with flying colours partly because the electorate is ignorant about the background of the person it is electing and partly because there are negotiable standards of morality.”
Besides her goof-ups on the purdah, sterilisation and spiritual communication with dead gurus, by inference and imputation, Pratibha Patil has been accused of protecting killers, diverting bank funds meant for women’s empowerment, siphoning off donations intended for Kargil victims, and nepotistically getting interest waived.
This aspect of her life may have been completely unknown to those who chose her to be the ruling coalition’s candidate, writes Dasgupta.
“If this is indeed the case, the Congress will not look diminished if it re-examines its decision before June 30—keeping in mind the fact that it is choosing a head of state. A last-minute change, if warranted, may well lead to momentary awkwardness, but this is nothing compared to the long-term institutional damage if Patil is found to be not quite what she appears.”
Read the full article: Beyond the silly season
Related link: BJP trap won’t snare Pratibha