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Presidents of India
Apart from being the highest office in the Indian democracy, the post of the President is also considered to be the official leader of all the departments responsible for the execution, legislation and legalities in India and also holds the most important post of the commander-in-chief of Army, Navy and the Military.
The citizens of India elect the MPs (Member of the Parliament) of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and also the leaders of the state who are the members of the Vidhan Sabhas and Vidhan Parishads. These leaders elect the President and the office is valid for five years. As part of the tradition, the President usually belongs to the party that is in power, an ideal example would be the current President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee who is a member of the ruling UPA or the United Progressive Alliance. This election is mostly unanimous and there are no contenders, though the leaders holding the post of Vice President are allowed to contest the election to serve a second term. The elections are conducted on the basis of calculations that ensure that there is a perfect synchronization between the population of the state and the leaders represented as well as the leaders who were leaders of the Assembly of States as well as the MPs. There is also a provision to choose a winner in case no leader is emerging as winners. The candidates who have fared low are moved out using a trusted method until one of them gets to the majority rule.
History of Presidents in India
India has seen 13 Presidents from the time the first President assumed office in 1950. The role of the president was formed when independent India became a Republic and framed its own Constitution. Though, there have been 13 Presidents, India also had three leaders who held the office of the acting presidents for shorter spans. Mentionable among them is Varahagiri Venkata Giri who took charge as the Acting President when Zakir Hussain, the then President passed away in 1969. Subsequently, he went on to become the President making a place in history as the only leader to have been in charge of the office of the Acting President as well as the President. The general term is five years in accordance with article 56, Part V of our constitution. However, in cases where it does not last that long, then the Vice President will automatically assume the President’s office and in case that is also not possible because of an unforeseen situation, then the Parliament will decide on how to execute the duties of the President. Our first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the only President who served two consecutive terms in the office.
Of the 13, 7 of our Presidents have served as integral party members prior to their Presidential role. Except one of them who belonged to Janata Party – Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, all the others belonged to the Indian National Congress. Zakir Hussain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed breathed their last while they were still in the Presidential office. In such events, the then serving Vice Presidents assumed the office of the acting presidents till the point the new leader was elected. In case of Hussain, Vice President Giri became the acting president, but had to let go the office as he contested the subsequent Presidential elections and Muhammed Hidayatullah became the acting president. Giri went on to win the elections and became the President of India. Shri Pranab Mukherjee who is now the President of India took up the post on July 25, 2012. He had earlier held very important portfolios including the national cabinet portfolios of Finance, Defence and Foreign relations. He is the son of the soil of West Bengal and had the prestige of being the first from the state to hold the post. His predecessor Pratibha Patil who held the office till July 25, 2012 was the 12th President and the first lady to hold the prestigious post.
Powers Posses by President
- Appointment powers
- Financial powers
- Judicial powers
- Diplomatic powers
- Military powers
- Pardoning Powers
- Emergency powers
Eligibility Needed to Become Indian President
The prerequisites of becoming the President of India is mentioned in the Indian constitution’s Article 58 and it states that
- The individual must have Indian citizenship
- Must be 35 or older
- Should be eligible to be a Lok Sabha member
The individual should not be in any post of the Government across the various states or under any of the services of such government bodies. They should not be drawing salaries or other benefits in such roles from the Government.
There is a provision for some individuals who have exceptions to contest the role of a President and they can be:
- Individual who is presently the Vice President
- State Governors
- Prime Minister, state Chief Ministers and any other Union Minister
If either of these people wins the Presidential elections, then by default their earlier posts stand vacant effective the day of their selection.
Such candidates, who want to contest the elections for the President or the Vice President, are mandated to have 50 people who propose them for that role and 50 who second their nominations as per the Act 1952 pertaining to Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act 1952.
Salary and other Prospects
The first salary of the President used to be Rs. 10,000 (US$200) monthly and this was revised to Rs 50,000 (USD 800) in 1998. After ten years, in 2008, this was further enhanced to Rs 1,50,000 (US$ 2,400). The point to be noted here is that all the expenses of the President are covered in the Rs. 22.5 crore (US$ 5 million) which has been put aside by Government as maintenance expenses of the President. The home of the Indian President, Rashtrapati Bhavan is the largest amongst the similar homes across the globe. The President can also spend his or her holidays at the Rashtrapati Nilayam, at Bolarum in Hyderabad and Shimla’s Retreat Building in Chharabha. The President has a high end bullet proof Mercedes Benz S600 Pullman Guard car at his disposal.
Removal from Post
In case, there are any accusations filed against the President or if found to be not adhering to the rules laid down by our Constitution, he can be de-chaired before the tenure expires.
This could be initiated in either Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha. First, the accusations framed against the President are read out and these have to be signed and dated by at least 25% of the members of the house. The signed memo is forwarded to the President and debate on this is done after two weeks.
In case, the notice has to be accepted, this will have to have the acceptance of two thirds of the members of the house where it was first started. Then, it passes on to the next house where it goes through a process of scrutiny and the president is also given a chance to counter the accusations being made against him. However, in spite of this, if the house finds him to be guilty and accepts the accusations, then the President loses his office from the date of the resolution. Unfortunately, this is the only action that can be taken against the President for not following the rules of the Indian constitution.