Pranab’s ascent to Rashtrapati Bhawan: Implications and Assumptions

Pranab’s ascent to Rashtrapati Bhawan: Implications and Assumptions

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.


6 thoughts on “Pranab’s ascent to Rashtrapati Bhawan: Implications and Assumptions

  1. true politics seldom considers merits and demerits…the analysis is apt and was very much needed as a sequel to your earlier article on the matter

  2. Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, the eternal number two, crisis manager, trouble shooter, Mr Dependable, Mr GOM, the greatest prime minister India never had, well the list of honorary titles bestowed upon Pranabda by the media as well as his contemporaries are endless. The man has encyclopedic knowledge of the constitution and parliament functioning. I hope Pranabda rises above political considerations during his stint in the Rashtrapati Bhawan and exhibits true statesmanship by acting solely as per the Constitution even if it leads to the demise and decimation the Congress Party. The job ahead is tough and Indira Gandhi’s blue eyed boy has a monumental task in the offing. Good luck to him.

  3. On the factual front, the write-up needs a bit of brush up because Pranabda’s comeback happened during the late 80’s only when he emerged his breakaway party with INC and became the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission in 1991. Then he served as External Affairs Minister for about an year during Narsimha Rao’s regime and then he helped Sonia Gandhi to wrest power from Sitaram Kesri by getting him ejected of the party president post by manipulating key provisions of the party constitution.

    1. @Saif – There was no significant relevance (comparative) in national politics that Pranab da had achieved during that time. There was an all out confrontation between Rajiv Gandhi and erstwhile Indira loyalists who were looking to grasp power. I don’t think that it could be labelled a comeback, the credibility of his breakaway party (Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress) can be paralleled to the Janta Party of today, it was a one man show. About being the Dy Chair of the planning commission, it is worth mentioning that Manmohan Singh held the same designation from ’85 to ’87 and his memorable contribution to Indian politics can be traced only from the moment he was the Finance Minister during Narsimha Rao’s regime. As a matter of fact a majority of the names on the list of Dy Chair Planning commission are forgetful. Getting Kesri ejected from the post of party president was an act of utmost shrewdness and political finesse, but again it was largely focused on insider politics rather than contributing to national politics. A virtual downtime had emanated for a majority of Gandhi family loyalists in the congress party after Sonia initially refused to join active politics and Pranab da had borne the brunt of the same.

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