‘Politricks’ in India throws up amazing tales — of intrigues, of sycophancy, of nepotism, and many more. When the pipe-smoking Pranab Mukherjee occupies Rashtrapati Bhavan, he will be carrying all these elements in ample measure in his coat pocket.
A find of the mighty Indira Gandhi in 1969, the young Pranab had a meteoric rise and he was soon an important fixture in the ‘Kangress court.’ He proved a ‘bright lad’ with 1.5 kg of grey matter among the pea-brained Kangress gang. Before long, the Bengali Babu earned the nickname of a “Man for All Seasons,” as he came pretty close to Indira. In just four years, became a minister in the Union Cabinet. His rise was vertical till he became No.2 in the present dispensation. I remember him frequently flying to Ahmedabad in the mid-80′s as PM’s emissary to quell the fire — both the communal and the internecine party type. He was often the fire-fighter for the party at the helms.
His only descend was in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination. He came to be regarded as the one who is destined step in her shoes but the Congress couldn’t do without its mascot — the Gandhi clan. Therefore the sycophants struck up a symphony singing ‘Rajiv, take up the crown.’ Rajiv did and Pranab was out. First time since he came into politics Pranab smoked more out of tension. Crestfallen, he formed an outfit, RSC, but in a few years he got a call from Rajiv and he merged it with the Congress.
Ever since, his fortune continued to climb through Naramsihma Rao’s and Sonia Gandhi’s reign. But he suffered a brief bout of depression when Manmohan got the lottery when the lot was taken for the PM chair following Sonia’s decision to keep off. For the second time he saw the trophy at hand, but not in his hand.
Yet being a man for all seasons, he bid his time and emerged as the unquestioned No.2 in the Manmohan Cabinet. However, his latest stint as Finance Minister was lacklustre. Indeed, the economic mess the ruling dispensation generated in the recent past has made many heads turn and give a baleful look at him though the FM is not to be entirely faulted when economy takes a wide swing.
It was now obvious that the man, who spent 42 years in Congress politics with a reasonably fair good record, should be rewarded with the highest position if the party comes back to power. What less than the prime ministerial position? But the Congress can’t do without the Gandhi clan. The tune that sounded for Rajiv was struck up again — bring Rahul. Thus the Yuvaraja must wear the crown soon (no matter he has proved a zero so far). It was therefore essential to shift Pranab elsewhere. The presidential chair came handy and rest we know.
The author of five and father of three, Pranab knows it too well that he must accept the second-best when the best is withheld by Fate. And, he also knows that putting someone in Rashtrapati Bhavan or Governor position is to say goodbye and good wishes for a happy domestic life afterward.
But he will have his moment next year when the general election, will in all probability, produces a hung parliament. The nation will know if he will act as a Congress president or as the president of India.
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PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.
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- Pranab Mukherjee is India’s 13th President : Postnoon | July 22, 2012