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Monday, July 23, 2012

the political path of new President - Pranab Mukherjee

He has been there and has seen it all – his CV would include the Ministries held by him – from Union Minister of Industrial Development 1973–1974 to : Shipping & Transport; Revenue & Banking; Commerce, Steel & Mines, Commerce, External Affairs, Defence, Finance and now the President of India…

The veteran Congress leader  Pranab Kumar Mukherjee has become the President of India after over four decades of life in active politics.  He will take office as the 13th President of India on 25 July 2012.  He officially received 713,763 electoral votes and was presented with the certificate on winning the elections from Rajya Sabha General Secretary. His rival candidate Sangma received 315,987 electoral votes.

Pranab da was born in Dec 1935 and has been in Indian political scene for many years now.. starting  with the Indian National Congress in 1969 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He became one of her top lieutenants and was often described as her "man for all seasons". His rise was meteoric in the early phase of his career and he became a cabinet minister in Indira Gandhi's government in 1973. Mukherjee rose through a series of cabinet posts to become the Finance Minister of India from 1982 to 1984. Mukherjee was Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1985.  However, he was sidelined from the Congress during the Rajiv Gandhi era as he perhaps was viewing himself  as the rightful successor to Indira Gandhi.

Pranab in Afghan dress

He floated his own political party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress, but later merged it with Congress in 1989 after reaching a political compromise with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.  He thrived under PV Narasimha Rao again becoming the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission and subsequently as a union cabinet minister in the 1990s.  Ironically, after tiff with Rajiv,  Mukherjee is considered the principal architect of Sonia Gandhi's entry into Indian politics in the 1990s. The government of India honored him with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India, in 2008.

In some ways after the Missile Expert Kalam, diplomat KR Narayanan and low-key Pratibha Patil, it is going to be a hardcore politician Pranab Mukherjee on the seat of constitutional head of the Country.   So a man with 5 decades of politics at the helm of affairs – and a political President will have a greater role if and when the Nation would have a hung Parliament.    There could be various political diktat of – the  largest pre-poll coalition; the single largest party to the party with apparent support of majority of elected MPs and other possible permutations.   Now by some accounts it is revealed that Kalam had no reservations about swearing in the Italian-born Congress Chief and S D Sharma —a Congress veteran, invited A B Vajpayee to form his 13-day government, despite the controversy over the decision.

So it is not purely ceremonial and the hardcore party man might flex at times of some complex situations.  Interestingly, in his earlier years, Mukherjee was famous for smoking his trademark Dunhill pipe. He  has since given up.  He is reported to be a compulsive workaholic, who, according to his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, works nearly 18 hours a day. He has not taken a holiday since the last 20 years except a trip to his village every year for Durga Puja, when he dons a priest's robe and performs prayers for four days.

Besides the multifold issues, there is one legacy that his predecessor Pratibha Patil has left behind.  While granting mercy to many convicts sentenced to death, Pratibha  had managed to avoid the political firestorm of Afzal Guru, accused in the 2001 Parliament attack. But will Pranab Mukherjee be able to avoid it?   Reportedly,  while campaigning in Srinagar, Mukherjee was handed a memorandum asking him to commute the sentence of Guru from death to life.

We wish our President all the best and calmer things as this in turn will help Us, the Nation and everyone around.  Let Peace be with us

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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