Press reports today say “With a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet President Pratibha Patil to stake claim (sic) to form the new government. This was decided unanimously at a meeting of the leaders of the United Progressive Alliance in which Gandhi was re-elected its Chairperson.” (emphasis added)
“To stake a claim” is to show that you believe something is yours or to declare that something belongs to you.
Is that what Jawaharlal Nehru did with Dr Rajendra Prasad or Dr Radhakrishnan? He went and said something like “Now look here Mr President, I would like to stake my claim to be Prime Minister of India now that this here General Election is over and I won”?
Is anyone else at present submitting any competing “claims” to the President? Of course not. Is the President unaware of the fact the General Elections are now over, or that she has a solemn duty to perform of inviting the leader of the largest political party in the new Lok Sabha to Rashtrapati Bhavan for an important chat? Why does it have to be said that someone has to “stake a claim” to be asked to form the Government when the field is open and there is no sign of any other “claimant”? Besides there has been the rush of political parties shooting off letters to the President declaring their support of Shrimati Gandhi and Dr Singh when they “stake claim” to the Government. What does the President of India do with such letter-carriers when they turn up at her doorstep uninvited? Offer each of them a cup of tea and a smile?
It is all hardly sober or uplifting — in fact, it is all rather undignified.
Perhaps a President of India might someday murmur something to the politicians like “Really, why do we need such talk about “staking claims”; I was going to invite you anyway.”