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YOUR PICK: Vote for India's next President

Last updated on: May 4, 2012 09:30 IST

YOUR PICK: Vote for India's next President

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Who would you like to see as India's next President? Vote and let us know!

On July 25, Pratibha Patil, India's first woman President who succeeded the ever-popular APJ Abdul Kalam as Head of State five years ago, will bid farewell to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Who will replace her? Many names have been doing the rounds, from veteran politicians to dignified businessmen to yesteryear actress Waheeda Rehman, which we alerted you recently to, with speculation being given the extra boost thanks to a manic social media. No political party has come out so far and announced their choice of candidate as yet, both the major political formations the UPA and the NDA are checking out present and future allies before they face off.  

But here's your big chance to vote for your choice for next President of India. Check out our list of likely candidates and vote (at the end of the slideshow) for who you want to see occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan next.

In case you have someone else in mind, please share her/his name with us HERE

Please click NEXT to see the list...


Image: President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, whose term as President ends in July 2012
Photographs: The Press Information Bureau

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Entrepreneur as President?

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NR Narayana Murthy

Who is he:
Co-founder, Infosys, the global software consulting company headquartered in Bengaluru, and among the most respected entrepreneurs in India. His stewardship of the company from humble beginnings to its global presence today is the stuff of legend, one that is toasted in boardrooms and management schools alike, and what makes it even more special is his simplicity and down-to-earth nature which hasn't changed despite all the encomiums and adulation.

What may go in his favour:

  • His unimpeachable character.
  • Visionary focus. 
  • Image as a youth icon.

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • Lack of political experience
  • Lack of political support

More on Murthy: A Padma Vibhushan awardee -- the country's second-highest civilian honour -- he has featured in rankings of businessmen and innovators published by India Today, Business Standard, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Time, CNN, Fortune, and the Financial Times. Murthy, now a venture capitalist, has been playing a public role in many capacities, notably as chairman of the Public Health Foundation of India and as adviser to several state and foreign governments.

Is he your choice for President?

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Image: NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder, Infosys


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Mark this Antony

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AK Antony

Who is he: Defence minister in the United Progressive Alliance government

What may go in his favour:

  • Considered a man of integrity
  • Belongs to a minority. Of the 12 Heads of State so far, four have come from minority communities.
  • Enjoys the support of Congress President Sonia Gandhi

What may NOT go his favour:

  • The recent faceoff with the Army chief, and the slow stench of corruption emanating from defence deals, have not covered him with glory 
  • May not be acceptable to many UPA allies
  • Lacks the popular connect of APJ Abdul Kalam

More Info: Antony has been Kerala chief minister four times. In 1977, at 37 years of age he became the youngest chief minister of the highly-literate southern state.

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Image: Defence Minister AK Antony
Photographs: PIB Photo

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UPA's man for all reasons

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Pranab Mukherjee

Who is he: Finance minister in the United Progressive Alliance government and its trouble-shooter for all seasons and reasons.

What may go in his favour:

  • Is the go-to man for the UPA government
  • Enjoys support cutting across party lines
  • An ace negotiator and strategist

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • The government needs him more for his ability to pull it out of a tight corner, than in the Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • Sonia Gandhi's lingering distrust of a man who tried to nix her husband's chance of becoming prime minister in 1984, though Sheela Bhatt reports here that Mukherjee has of late built bridges with the Congress president 

More info: Mukherjee is known for his phenomenal ability to remember people and the nitty-gritty of his ministry, and you know why he is such a valuable asset to the government. Though appreciative of reforms, he is also a believer in the role of the State in terms of control and regulation. To a man for who the top executive post of the land is barred, the President's post could be fit recompense. 

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
Photographs: PIB Photo

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Due for promotion?

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Hamid Ansari

Who is he: Vice President of India

What may go in his favour:

  • Clear front-runner at this stage.
  • Acceptance across party lines
  • Could be a consensus candidate if it came to the crunch

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • With the chorus for having a non-political person as President slowly mounting, his chance may be nixed.

More Info: Ansari, who comes from a prominent political family with socialist leanings, is no stranger to the world of politics. An IFS officer of 1961 vintage, the Padma Shri has been India's envoy to the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Australia. He won the admiration of many with his charm, grace and sophistication when he was the chief of protocol during the Non-Aligned Summit in New Delhi in 1983.

Interestingly, of the 12 vice presidents so far, six have gone on to become President -- interestingly, all from the Congress party. So will Ansari be the seventh Veep to be elevated?  

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Image: Vice President Hamid Ansari


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Liberal with a past

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Jaswant Singh

Who is he: Former defence minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader

What may go in his favour:

  • Liberal face in a party struggling to find a replacement for AB Vajpayee  
  • Has friends in all political parties.

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • Sure, the UPA doesn't have the numbers to see its nominee in Rashtrapati Bhavan, but neither does the NDA. Will the regional parties go along with Singh? Unlikely.
  • The past. Specifically December 1999, when he accompanied the three terrorists freed to secure the release of passengers aboard the hijacked IC 814 to Kandahar. Doesn't seem like he can live it down, ever, even though he was merely carrying out a Union Cabinet decision.

More Info: Jaswant has a reputation of being his own man in a regimented party, as witnessed when he secured the nomination from the GNLF to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling. Jaswant, a former Army officer, has an abiding interest in defence issues and has been a member of the Defence Services Institute; Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies and International Institute of Strategic Studies, London.

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Image: Jaswant Singh


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Rockstar President

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APJ Abdul Kalam

Who is he: Former President of India

What may go in his favour:

  • India's first and very own People's President, there is no doubting that in case of a public poll he will win hands down against anyone. 
  • Simplicity. He exited Rashtrapati Bhavan the way he entered it -- quietly, and with nary many appendages, human or otherwise.     
  • Youth icon, just what the doctor would order to restore the public's confidence in the political class, if anyone's looking for a medical prescription, that is.

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • The inexplicable opposition from the Congress party, specifically its high command. Many reasons have been attributed for this near-hostility, but one will never know the truth.

More Info: Missile man, as Dr Kalam is known, is a technocrat with deep links to India's defence establishment. Pokhran II under the National Democratic Alliance government was his doing, for which he was conferred the Bharat Ratna. He also has honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions.

Not surprisingly, four of Dr Kalam's books -- Wings of Fire, India 2020 - A Vision for the New Millennium, My journey and Ignited Minds - Unleashing the power within India -- are bestsellers.

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Image: APJ Abdul Kalam
Photographs: National Informatics Centre website

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The nowhere man

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Somnath Chatterjee

Who is he: Former Lok Sabha speaker and former CPI-M central committee member

What may go in his favour:

  • A clean reputation
  • No-nonsense manner, as evidenced during his tenure as Lok Sabha Speaker, when he didn't hesitate to do the right thing even if it annoyed his political party.

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • Doesn't belong to any political party. 
  • The Left's antagonism. 

More Info: Interestingly, there was talk five years ago, too, of Somnath being elevated to the President's post (the choice ultimately fell on Pratibha Patil), and this is what he had said then.

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Image: Somnath Chatterjee
Photographs: Reuters

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Madam Speaker

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Meira Kumar

Who is she: Lok Sabha Speaker

What may go in her favour:

  • Enjoys support across the spolitical spectrum
  • Is known to be an able administrator -- as evidenced by her handling of the often boisterous lower House of Parliament
  • Being the daughter of the tallest Dalit leader India has ever produced, Babu Jagjivan Ram, could go in her favour.

What may NOT go in her favour:

  • Not much traction even within her own party, the Congress, for the idea.
  • Gender. Two successive woman Presidents? Nah, say the cynics.

More Info: Speaker Meira Kumar has a double record to her name -- the first woman and the first Dalit to occupy the important post. A former diplomat, she joined the IFS in 1973 and served in Spain, the United Kingdom and Mauritius. 

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Image: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar
Photographs: PIB

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The Jurist

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Soli Sorabjee

Who is he: Eminent jurist

What may go in his favour:

  • An impeccably clean record
  • Intricate knowledge of constitutional law (which helps, since all legislations need the President's approval).
  • The outsider -- in case of deadlock among over political names, could he be the surprise choice? Who knows...

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • Lack of political support or traction.

More Info: A Padma Vibhushan awardee for his defence of freedom of expression and the protection of human rights, he has been part of the Citizen's Justice Committee, which represented pro bono victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Some of the other important cases he has appeared for include Keshavananda Bharati and S R Bommai, both of which had farreaching impact. He recently appeared in the case of BP Singhal, in which the Supreme Court held that governors could not be dismissed without due cause.

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Image: Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee
Photographs: PIB Photo

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The convenor

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Sharad Yadav

Who is he: The Janata Dal-United president and NDA convenor is a four-time member of Parliament from Madhepura in Bihar.

What may go in his favour:

  • Is a political veteran with friends among all political parties.
  • Surprise, surprise, the BJP and CPI-M may back his candidature to nix the UPA nominee's chances

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • May find it difficult to find the numbers needed.

More Info: He defeated Lalu Prasad Yadav in a direct contest from Madhepura in 1997, and has been Union minister twice, in the VP Singh government in 1989-90 and in the NDA government in 1999.

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Image: The Janata Dal-United's Sharad Yadav


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Son of Punjab

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Parkash Singh Badal

Who is he: Shiromani Akali Dal patron and chief minister of Punjab

What may go in his favour:

  • Thanks to his political career spanning seven-and-a-half decades, has friends in all regional political parties.
  • There has been no Sikh President since Zail Singh (1982 to 1987).

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • The NDA may back him but that may not be enough to get him into Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Thanks to the UP assembly election results there is no danger to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's job. A Sikh as head of government as well head of state? Unlikely to come about.

More info: The 85-year-old Badal, who entered politics in 1947, created two records in the recently-concluded Punjab elections -- becoming the chief minister of Punjab for the fifth time and being the first in the re-organised state's history to return to power for a second successive tenure.

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Image: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal


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From Lucknow with love

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Mulayam Singh Yadav

Who is he:
Samajwadi Party leader

What may go in his favour:

  • The Congress party needs his party's support as a backup to counter the unpredictable Mamata Banerjee.
  • Pro-subaltern image. 

What may NOT go in his favour:

  • His earthy image. 
  • Ongoing CBI probe into disproportionate assets case against him hangs over him like the sword of Damocles.

More Info: With his son Akhilesh installed as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yadav Sr has made known his preference for a Delhi assignment. While joining the Union Cabinet seems unlikely -- outside support to the UPA is ok -- what can be better than a stint in Rashtrapati Bhavan? Sure beats the ex-chief minister's home in Lucknow in grandeur, we say!

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Image: Mulayam Singh Yadav


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