After being an active part of Indian politics for 43 years, ex-Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee will take over as President of India on the 25th of July. Naturally, he is all that anyone can talk about.
I’m sure that you have been informed about the number of votes he got, the number of votes his contender P.A. Sangma got and all the other statistical and factual information pertaining to this piece of news of national, nay, global importance.
But none of that is my concern. I only care about the answer to the question: Why?
Why was Pranab Mukherjee the UPA’s choice for the presidential candidature? More importantly, why now?
For those of you who don’t know, before resigning as the Finance Minister (in order to contest for the Presidential Elections), Pranab Mukherjee’s profile included charge of 24 of the 39 decision-making groups of the Cabinet. Issues related to the spectrum, petrol prices, coal, energy projects and many others were, in simple words, “his business”. So, was pushing Mr. Mukherjee for President a step to sideline him from major decisions within the government and the party?
Something that has been making news lately is Rahul Gandhi’s declaration to take more initiative and be more actively involved in the workings of the Congress. Subsequently, many questions and concerns have been raised over Rahul Gandhi being the next choice for Prime Minister in the 2014 elections. With Pranab Mukherjee (the most seasoned politician in the Congress) out of the picture, the chances of Rahul Gandhi taking on the reigns increase significantly. That pretty much answers the first question. But here is another nerve-wrecker.
Why can’t Pranab Mukherjee ever be Prime Minister?
It was in the year 1969 that Mukherjee started his political career with the Congress party under the able guidance of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In just four years, he managed to become a cabinet minister in her government in 1973. Between the years 1980 and 1985, Pranab Mukherjee had managed to secure the post of Finance Minister and Leader of the House of Rajya Sabha.
After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Mukherjee saw his chances in politics and particularly the Congress, slowly diminishing. The reason: When Rajiv Gandhi took on the reins of the Congress after the death of Mrs. Gandhi, he never came to trust Indira Gandhi’s “man of all seasons” when the man in question was harbouring dreams of becoming Prime Minister, dreams which were “rightfully” reserved for Rajiv Gandhi.
Naturally, Pranab Mukherjee’s delusional thinking that he should be the rightful heir to Mrs. Gandhi made him an unreliable and untrustworthy man for Rajiv Gandhi and his wife (future party president of the Congress) Sonia Gandhi. And there crumbled Mr. Mukherjee’s dreams of becoming Prime Minister of India.
And finally, how is that political leaders (who can’t help but plot each other’s deaths) from parties apart from the Congress came together to support the presidential candidature of Pranab Mukherjee?
The answer is simple really.
Turning to the present scenario- Mukherjee’s victory has not come as a surprise to anyone. As argued by many, the victory is not of the Congress Party but of Mukherjee himself. The fact that he managed to snag the votes of parties like the Shiv Sena, JD(U), SP and Bahujan Samaj Party is an indication of exactly this.
But here is the scenario that most of you don’t know.
It’s more than clear that no one party is likely to get the majority in the 2014 elections. In such an event, alliances with the President are what come in handy. And after all, this is politics. So here is the sole motive behind all the votes that Mr. Mukherjee has managed to get himself. Offering support to his presidential candidature would strengthen a deal of sorts (President in return for Prime Minister?). It’s the only chain of events that seems to make any sense.
Mamata, Mulayam, Nitish, Sharad Pawar, they’re all striking the same deal. They’re applying the teachings of the age-old idiom: “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
While I do hope that Pranab Mukherjee would yield more results than our last President, I find it hard to believe that the “promotion” he has been handed has anything to do with his abilities.
There is a larger picture that one needs to sketch out. At the end of the day, everybody wants to be either “King” or “King-Maker”.
Image Source [http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/4091621697/]