by Barendra Kumar
With due submission, I beg to state that Pluralism is the keystone of Indian culture and religious tolerance is the bedrock of Indian secularism. In a secular country like India, equal opportunities are provided to every citizen in nation building process. Since India became a republic in 1950, we have had 14 Presidents & 13 Vice-Presidents. From the minority communities, 4 Muslim candidates have been President & 3 have been Vice-Presidents. India has also had 1 Sikh President. But till date there has not been a single Christian in the post of President or Vice-President in India.
From the induction of Union Ministers during the Cabinet reshuffle in July 2021, it was clear that the focus has been on four states i.e.- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha & West Bengal. There have been 2 Presidents from Uttar Pradesh including the incumbent President. The previous President of India was from West Bengal while Shankar Dayal Sharma, the Former President & Vice-President was from Madhya Pradesh. But till date, there has never been a single President or Vice-President from Odisha, having an Odia origin.
As per the official 2011 census report Christians constitute 2.3% of Indian Population. Several North-Eastern states like Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland & Arunachal Pradesh have a clear-cut Christian majority while Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu & Manipur are also home to a considerably large Christian population where Christian voters play a decisive factor in Government formation.
To be fair & square, if we reflect the making of modern India, the Indian Christians have worked fingers to the bone for the nation, thus making momentous contributions in the fields of educational services, medical services, administrative & legal services, social services among others. Even during epidemics and natural disasters, when the country is at sixes and sevens, several Christian organizations have readily put forward a helping hand towards the victims.
There are several candidates from the Indian Christian community, worthy of occupying the highest (President) and second highest constitutional office in India (Vice-President). Political stalwarts from the Tribal Christian community of North East like George Gilbert Swell and P.A. Sangma, had the support of BJP and their allies when they contested the presidential polls in 1992 and 2012, respectively.
In 1992 Presidential elections, George Gilbert Swell, contested with support from the BJP and National Front. Prior to 2002 the BJP led NDA had first proposed name of P.C. Alexander for Presidency of India, but the TDP had not agreed to Alexander’s candidature in spite of repeated requests from the BJP led NDA. In 2012 Presidential elections, P. A. Sangma had filed his nomination papers with the support of the Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik & Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalitha. Sangma was BJP’s candidate for 2012 Presidential Elections. In 2017 it was reported in media that Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) contemplated on backing S.C. Jamir, a Tribal Christian from Nagaland and the then Odisha governor, as its Vice Presidential nominee. In 2012 a Tamil Nadu-based political party (Samuga Samatuva Padai) had proposed the name of M. M. Rajendran, former governor of Odisha, as a Christian President of India.
The aforementioned demographic ratio & facts warrant the attention for deserving Indian Christian candidates to be provided an opportunity to yield the nation their best services and play an active role in serving the nation by navigating in the direction of holistic development in concurrence with the Indian Constitutional values.
India needs a non-political, common and a low-profile person at the top post as, he/she would not be biased toward any political party. Although the post of a president is a ceremonial one, a president from the Christian minority will work on the minds of people. It will affect the people in terms of feelings, emotions and culture. We appeal you to kindly take appropriate steps as deemed proper, advocating our request for a Christian candidate for the post of President or Vice-President of India.
With Respectful regards.