ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Behind Zakir Hussain s Choice

Behind Zakir Hussain's Choice A Correspondent from New Delhi writes: IT IS TYPICAL of the Congress that the antagonisms within the High Command continue, oblivious of their consequences for the future of the party. Forewarning of the further disintegration of the Congress can be seen in the entire drama of selecting the party's candidates for the Presidentship and the Vice-Presidentship. The two principal antagonists were the Prime Minister and the Congress President. Each has been trying to outwit the other at a time when the Opposition parties have posed a mortal threat to the Congress. Neither Kamaraj nor Indira Gandhi seems to have given any thought to the criteria which should govern the choice. While Indira Gandhi advocated the candidature of Zakir Hus- sain for the President's post, Kamaraj was doubtful about the wisdom of disturbing the status quo. The continuance of Radhakrishnan, he thought, would compel the Opposition parties to fall in line with the Congress. To counter the Congress President, Indira Gandhi sought to establish links with a section of the Opposition with whose support she hoped to confront Kamaraj and the Congress Parliamentary Board with a fait accompli. The Opposition out-manoeuvred both Kamaraj and the Prime Minister by setting up their own candidates, chosen jointly by all the parties including those whom Indira Gandhi was banking on for support to Zakir Hussain, Even while the Congress Parliamentary Board was seized of the issue a new turn was given to the controversy by Indira Gandhi in concert with the Opposition, much to Kamaraj's discomfiture. Feelers for an Indira-Opposition detente were put out and it was made to appear that a sort of consensus with Zakir Hussain as President and Subba Rao as Vice-President was on the anvil. Badhakrishnain then chose to bow out of the picture. It was at this stage that Kamaraj decided to reverse his role. The Congress Parliamentary Board was again activated, and this time all the members stood foursquare for Zakir Hussain and the party's nominee for Vice-Presidentship, V V Giri, with the implicit rejection of the idea of compromise talks with the Opposition. Kamaraj now led the fight for Zakir Hussain against the combined Opposition. His purpose clearly was to put the responsibility for the outcome of the elections squarely on Indira Gandhi. If Zakir Hussain won, the High Command would share the honours and claim credit for having given battle to the Opposition and won a victory over their combined forces. If instead he lost

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