Always the bridesmaid and never the bride – Barkha Dutt
The night that Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi officially declared Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the Presidential poll, Barkha’s avowal on NDTV 24×7 was forlornly precise. The former journalist had played the knight in shining armour to the congress party for over four decades, yet always settled for penultimate designations.
After rising into prominence during Indira Gandhi’s regime as the Finance Minister, Pranab had carved a clout within the Congress party for himself. Relations with the Gandhi family soured after Indira Gandhi’s assassination when the dynamic bong expressed desires to be the Prime Minister of the country.
He made his comeback into the corridors of power with UPA I as the External Affairs Minister during which he struck the crucial Indo-US Nuclear deal. Mukherjee resumed the coveted Finance Ministry by succeeding P Chidambaram.
Despite Pranab’s seemingly indispensible involvement in the functioning of the UPA alliance, his nomination for to Rashtrapati Bhawan is not surprizing. The Congress party diffused Mamta Banerjee in her heartland by fielding a ‘Bengali’ candidate who requested his ‘like a sister’ coalition ally to support his candidature. Magnanimous pressure was induced on Didi to pave way for the first ‘Bengali’ President of the country.
The segregation of Pranab Mukherjee from active politics can be interpreted to various decrees. Within the Congress party Rahul Gandhi may emerge pervasive, now that the one who opposed his father’s succession would be nullified. Possibility for stalwarts such as Motilal Vohra and Ghulam Nabi Azad to return into prominence cannot be ruled out. This may also be an opportunity for Salman Khursheed and P Chidambaram to be promoted to being the second in command within the UPA. It is assured that his absence is not being taken lightly and major reshuffling within the Congress party may be on the cards. The vacated Finance Ministry has been hounded by allies hoping to grab hold of the powerful office. Heavily monitored, the UPA partners are looking to being projected as the other most influential party in national politics.
The tenure of Pratibha Patil had reduced the already ceremonial designation to an office that was merely allocated. With crores worth of foreign trips and seldom making public appearances lady President had transmuted the most dignified designation in the country to that a getaway opportunity. It can be assured that Pranab Mukherjee would not adhere to the precedent set by his precursor. After two decades a political personality of his stature is being projected as the future President of India, despite the stiff competition by P.A. Sangma, political gurus are speaking purely in numbers.
The odds are greatly in favour of Pranab Mukherjee and Sangma’s candidature is being perceived as being merely symbolic in nature. There is no doubt that Sangma is a qualified candidate but politics seldom considers merits and demerits. Indian politics is an imbroglio of money management and vote bank equations where individualist desires drive those involved.