Living in a country where there is so much political turmoil, it seems odd to peek across the border and see just how smoothly transition can take place. In India’s presidential election, veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee was elected the 13th president of the world’s largest democracy, in a transition unmarked by controversy or any form of turmoil. This continues a tradition that India can be justly proud of and one that Pakistan ought to emulate so that some stability can be introduced to our faltering democracy. Certainly, this is an urgent need of the hour where fresh chaos shakes the country virtually every day.
Mukherjee, who has enjoyed a long career with the Congress Party, was the candidate of the United Progressive Alliance, led by the Congress and backed by a number of smaller parties. The 518,000 votes he collected from members of parliament and state legislative assemblies far exceeded the number collected by his rival, PA Sangma, a former parliamentary speaker. When changes like this proceed smoothly and as per constitutionally laid-down guidelines, it should be noted how much energy is injected into the system. In our case, energy is constantly drained away by doubts, interventions and rumours that surround virtually every political issue, thereby contributing to difficulties with governance and the inability to cope with many matters to which more time needs to be devoted.
Mukherjee will make a well-respected president who has earned this respect over the years. This factor is important in giving the sense of unification that stems from the presidency. India has done well in building strong democratic foundations. This is something we need to learn from so that we are able to reach a stage when we, too, are able to move from one election to the next without the sense of danger that constantly stalks democracy in our country. Recently, and over the decades, we have witnessed interruptions that have barred us from building a durable system that is able to stand strong no matter what direction the winds blow from. Let us hope that we can learn from the example of our neighbour and progress in the fight for preserving democracy.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.