Pranab will be assertive, not adversarial
Dr A P J Abdul Kalam isn’t a politician. He’s a scientist who once headed India’s missile development programme that’s essentially about keeping a projectile on course to hit a target.
It was perhaps for this reason that he relied on his scientific temper to turn down Mamata Banerjee’s and the BJP’s last ditch bid to set him up as a presidential candidate. He knew the numbers were against him. That he stood no chance of winning against Pranab Mukherjee.
The learned scientist decided therefore against being a dud missile in the hands of the saffron party. And whatever little chances there were of he agreeing to the token contest were extinguished by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for an Opposition consensus over his name.
The ham-handed BJP move — and I write this without prejudice or bias — disregarded Kalam’s 2002 presidential foray that had, besides the NDA, the TDP and the SP, the support of the Congress party. To push the former President into a fight he was likely to lose was crass opportunism. Kalam wasn’t obviously game. Not especially when he was sought to be used as a pawn on the political chess-board.
It’s always unfair to compare individuals. But at times it’s inescapable! I’ve no doubt that Kalam doesn’t require to be President again to be important. The same is largely true of Pranab Mukherjee. No other nominee in recent years has transported to the presidency the wealth of experience and first hand knowledge of the system the Finance Minister will take to the high office.
I’m certain that Mukherjee’s wouldn’t be a rubber-stamp presidency. At the same time — a stickler for form that he is — he’d do nothing to be in conflict with an elected regime, now or after 2014, when a change of government might well happen.
The best suited man for an overlapping presidency. That’s what Mukherjee happens to be. I doubt whether the assertion will be questioned even by BJP big-wigs. They all know how helpful the Congress’s presidential aspirant was as chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs during the NDA rule.