NEW DELHI: It looks as if the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has openly come out to appoint its nominees at different places of governance. The elections for the President of India are just a few weeks away and yet again the names being tossed around for the top position are from the RSS parivar.

Today, there are as many as nine chief ministers of the BJP or actually of the RSS. They are: Manoharlal Khattar of Haryana, Trivendra Singh Rawat of Uttarakhand, Biren Singh of Manipur, Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra, Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh, Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh, Manohar Parrikar of Goa, Raghubar Das of Jharkand and the latest to join the list of the RSS parivar is Adityanath Yogi of Uttar Pradesh.

Above all, the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an ardent RSS pracharak. He came into the limelight after the riots in Gujarat where he was at the helm of affairs. When he became Prime Minister in 2014, he saw to it that the committed people from the RSS occupied all important positions of governance, both at the centre and in the states.

When PM Modi began the stint at the Centre, he did not give the impression of toeing the line of the RSS but as the days went by, he gradually showed his true colours. He brought in Amit Shah, his Man Friday, and foisted him as president of the Bharatiya Janata Party. But it must be said to his credit that the BJP swept through to power in the country with 72 Lok Sabha seats from UP alone. Shah was instrumental in helping the BJP and its allies win 325 seats out of 403 in the state.

The sweep in UP has helped the BJP gain a sizeable number in the Rajya Sabha and with the party’s two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha, the presidential election appears to be a mere formality. Indeed, this gives the kind of confidence to both the BJP and the RSS that no matter who they put up as their candidate, there will hardly be any opposition. Even if there is a slight resistance from some of the non-BJP parties, it will only be tokenism at best.

The names that are doing the rounds include L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha, former Finance Minister. Advani is a heavier name since he founded the BJP when the Janata Party was breaking up in 1980 soon after Indira Gandhi returned to power. She punished the BJP members with vengeance. Sinha, a former bureaucrat, has vast experience. There are also sympathizers within the party who favour their candidature because they have been sidelined since the advent of PM Modi.

However, the ultimate choice of the presidential candidate will depend on the Prime Minister. He is keeping the cards close to his chest . He will definitely want a person who will be at his command. The two names that have emerged certainly do not seem to fit into the scheme that he appears to have in mind.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is too young and the Prime Minister needs him in the Cabinet.Besides he is an effective speaker in Parliament. Home Minister Rajnath Singh wanted to be the chief minister of UP. But now that Yogi is well entrenched as the state chief minister, Rajnath Singh might be looking at this coveted position. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who has conducted the house in an orderly way, is also being spoken about as a possible candidate.

The ideal choice would be a candidate who is apolitical, popular and experienced. Pranab Mukherjee was selected as President because he was the hatchet man of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The other reason for his elevation was that he was seen as an obstacle to Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister. However, Mukherjee as President has not been above controversy either. As the head of state he should not have published his memoirs while in office.

Political parties were reluctant to criticise him because he is the constitutional head, as much theirs as that of those who elected him. Pranab Mukherjee has violated the demand of office by publishing his memoirs when he is still the President of India. Another former President Giani Zail Singh was also not without blemish. He installed Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister even before the Congress parliament party had elected him as leader.

Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi has failed to make any impact while occupying the No. 2 position as vice-president of the Congress. Sonia Gandhi still has the tag of being an Italian. And, therefore, ruled out as effective support for any other candidate put up by opposition parties for the top position.

The communists are not taken seriously because of their dwindling strength in the country. They have gradually been losing ground even in those states where they held sway until some years ago. The regional parties expect for the Nitish Kumar led alliance in Bihar and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, hardly matter. All these leave the field wide open for the BJP or the candidate which RSS recommends, to make it to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

There is every reason to believe that the next President would be a person from the BJP-RSS stable. This would not really represent the real sentiment of the people. They would want a person who would answer their aspirations. Rulers of different political parties will have to sink their differences and cast their net wide so as to catch the prize fish. Unfortunately, there is none available in the political field at this moment.

The alternative can be an academician, a scientist, a jurist or someone else who has excelled in her/his field with knowledge of political affairs. But that is not likely.