India is the only country in the world to have not just one but two presidents. How cool can you get.

By Jug Suraiya

As Ram Nath Kovind makes himself comfortable on the gaddi at Rashtrapati Bhavan, India can take justifiable pride in the fact that it has made constitutional history.

It’s not just the fact that Ram Nathji is the second Dalit to occupy this august position. Nor is it that it was a significant measure of cross-voting – particularly from within the ranks of the Congress – which assured his appointment.

No, what makes Ram Nathji’s election to the presidency so constitutionally memorable is that India is the only country in the world to have not just one but two presidents. How cool can you get.

And it isn’t as if the previous incumbent of Rashtrapati Bhavan is still lurking in the shrubbery. With characteristic graciousness, Pranabda has made a dignified exit.

So how come our double-barrelled presidency? Simple. The second barrel is supplied by none other than the PM, who’s playing a double role.

A number of people – most recently Shashi Tharoor – have been advocating that India needs to switch to a presidential system of government. The arguments they’ve used have been cogent but unnecessary. Because the country already has a presidential form of government, with the PM being both PM as well as de facto, if not de jure, president as well.

The PM has always been the star of the blockbuster show called the Modi sarkar. Whether it’s Swachh Bharat, or demonetisation, or GST, or whatever you will, the PM has been running the country as its CEO, which is what presidents do.

The appointment of Ram Nathji – the PM’s handpicked nominee – sets the seal on the Modi presidency. In fact, it sets two seals on it.

Having a badli president, so to speak, comes in handy. Particularly when one of them seems to spend more time whizzing around the globe than he does within the country.

It also goes to show that India is truly a plural polity. How much more plural can a polity be than having a plurality of presidents?

As a Modi-fied version of the old saying might go, two heads of state are better than won.

DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.

This article was first published on Times of India on 26 July 2017