In the end he mildly criticized the BJP. He said, “We live in a turbulent part of the world where factors of instability have grown in the recent past. Communal forces and terrorists will still seek to destabilize the harmony of our people and the integrity of our state but they will never win.”
Those who watched the address and still remember it or have read the transcript of the speech would conclude that President Mukherjee during his overall speech favored the BJP over the INC, the AAP and rest of the parties. This becomes clearly and explicitly evident as he favored the formation of a stable next government which can complete its full term.
Except for miracles the INC-led alliance does not appear to be doing so. The AAP’s performance is still in doubt and probably much inflated by the mainstream media. Therefore, it is probably the BJP-led alliance which could give India its rightful place among the community of nations and fulfill the dreams of well over a billion people.
Mukherjee’s speech tells at the compulsion of Presidents: that they may have to use arguments against their own former governments and parties. The speech reflects the arrival of the institutional objectivity in Indian establishment though there have been many precedents in the past too.
The Presidents can have little influence and impact on which party or alliance should form the government except in those cases where their discretion is much required. Even in those circumstances he and she would like to act objectively, impartially and fairly without remembering who voted him and her into the Raisina Hill.
But should Presidents of India take political sides? In particular, should they express their opinions about the viability of various political options? Sure, the INC-led UPA 1&2 have been corrupt right from the top to the bottom and all along but then Mukherjee was once part of it as late as in 2012. Or was he just trying to calm down the popular anger and resentment among the masses of India against the incumbent Union government? In both cases the President was trying appearing to play a bit of politics.
As per to the precision of textbooks, Presidents are not supposed to play much politics while in office till a constitutional crisis breaks down in New Delhi or in other state capitals. The same is not true at present as the country is not facing any urgent impending constitutional crisis at least at Union level. Probably, Mukherjee wanted to be honest and frank.
But then he is no intellectual and instead the figurehead of the biggest democracy in the world. Presenting or accounting for popular sentiments as a statesman or as a psychiatrist or both is not the best of President’s job. However, President have to state something relevant during their addresses to the nation on the eves of Republic Day and Independence Day as the guardian of Indian Constitution and its various state institutions and that is what Pranab Mukherjee did on 25 January, 2014.
He tried to be as impartial and as objective as he could be but in doing so he touched all political opinions rather deeply, intrinsically, fully and exhaustively. In fact he may cast his vote- for the INC but still against it. At the same time he criticized the BJP, the AAP, many of the regional parties for one reason or another.
But in essence Mukherjee’s comments are rather real and genuine. In fact, all political opinions have some pluses and some minuses for many among those who can think and do so rather independently and objectively. There are not clear-cut choices for many thinking brains.
I think that the upcoming general elections would be rather peaceful and full of complexity and the public of India all across the nation would choose the best among the candidates in their respective constituencies. President Mukherjee would hope to preside over a better government, even if it means a government-led a party he was not part of earlier.