He also announced his availability in case of a hung Lok Sabha in 2019.
To begin with, PranabDa is a clear winner. They had virtually forgotten his existence ever since he became an ex-President. Now, he is set to remain in the public eye for weeks and months. After all, if you credit this old fox from the Congress stable with much wisdom and experience, you have to concede he is unlikely to spend the rest of his life in near-anonymity, tending his kitchen garden and playing with grandkids. Or looking after his sizeable portfolio of worldly assets amassed over a long ministerial career, being extra-generous to some business houses and extra-harsh on others.
If PranabDa is cerebral, as you insist he is, he is unlikely to fade away from the limelight. He is all what his immediate predecessor Pratibha Patil is not. Does anyone remember where she is and what she is up to? Nobody seems to care. But look at PranabBabu, he has dominated the news cycle for several days. And for days to come they will debate whether his decision to go to Nagpur was right or wrong, whether what he said at the passing-out parade of a thousand-odd members of the third-year OTC (Officers Training Course) constituted a rebuke or a gentle lesson in the civilisational heritage of India, that is, Bharat.
The closed minds having persuaded themselves that the RSS is a fascist organisation will not believe that the real gainer from Pranab’s visit to Nagpur will not be the RSS, but Pranab himself. He has gained much mileage from his peroration before the assembled RSS trainees with their bhagwa fluttering proudly in his front. The RSS follows its own agenda, its own mission and is in no particular hurry to achieve what it set out to achieve back in 1925. A civilisational project can take a millennia to consummate. And those in charge are very patient men, not animated by personal ambitions or pressured by the lack of time.
Admittedly, that project urgently needs a course correction. Abandon the thought that you can Islamise Hinduism. You cannot. Nobody can. It just isn’t there in our DNA. But what the RSS can do is to make model citizens of its members, law-abiding citizens. It should stop harping on the so-called glorious past and instead embrace modernism, which also comes from an exposure to English language and the outside world. Simply put, stop being a frog in the Nagpur well. As for Islam, given how its jihadi component now poses a threat to much of the world, including Russia and China, sooner or later it is bound to become its own worst enemy. Leave it alone. For evidence, see no further than Pakistan. Or Syria.
By the way, both in the ancient Hindu society and our democratic polity, differences were meant to be resolved through sambad (debate), not by demonising those you disagreed with. It would have been rude to decline the invitation once he had accepted it. More importantly, untouchability/apartheid reflects poorly on its practitioners, not anyone else. You can sup with the devil in the hope you may be able to persuade it to shun its wickedness.
Meanwhile, Pranab may have emerged a likely player in the post-election scenario in 2019. Speculation features him as a Prime Ministerial candidate of both the NDA and the non-NDA in the unlikely event of Narendra Modi failing to win a simple majority. In that case, he can count on a little help from a corporate house whose fortunes looked up whenever he helmed a key economic ministry.
By going to Nagpur, the ex-President may have served notice that he is available to “serve the country” in a suitable capacity, in keeping with the honour and dignity of a former head of the Republic. Remember that Pranab is a good decade younger to Mahathir Mohammed, who at 92 last month took over as Prime Minister of Malaysia. Again, there is no constitutional bar on a former President becoming Prime Minister.
Come to think of it, by going to Nagpur, Pranab might have done Rahul Gandhi a favour. Given how the likes of Anand Sharma and others who had tweeted homilies to the veteran politician, apprehending he might issue a chit of good health to the RSS, hurried to eat their words, underlines their anxiety just in case he emerged the leader of the all-embracing front the Great Leader was putting together to defeat Modi. That there is no one of any standing who can front such an opportunistic cabal of anti-Modi groups is clear. Mukherjee could fill the vacuum should the lack of a viable leader cause the front to disintegrate with some losing no time to drift towards the NDA.
Meanwhile, you can only feel sorry for the Congress, whose leader is bent on shrinking it further and further. After forcing the Congress to play second fiddle to H.D. Kumaraswamy’s smaller group in Karnataka, he has now surrendered the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Kerala the Congress was in a position to win, to the Kerala Congress (M). So desperate was he that to persuade the leader of the predominantly Christian group, he sought the services of a self-avowedly Muslim party, the Kerala Muslim League. If Rahul keeps on whittling down his own party, there may not be any Congress left when the time comes for him to stake claim to the prime ministerial gaddi.
Diminishing pull of the AAP Fuhrer
Oh, what a change of heart! Since Arvind Kejriwal does nothing without keeping his own interests foremost, his kind words for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after all the muck he had hurled at him, must be taken with a tonne of salt. The motive was apparent a couple of days later when reports came that his trusted aide, Dilip Pande, has mooted an election alliance with the Congress. The cooing noises made sense following the reported opinion poll conducted by an agency for the Congress party which revealed that AAP could win a lone parliamentary seat in Delhi if the elections were to be held today. Same survey reportedly revealed that the BJP too would win but one seat while the Congress will romp home in five.
Regardless of the findings of the opinion poll, the actual results of the two recent bypolls in Punjab confirm a steep decline in the popularity of AAP. In the Shahkot Assembly bypoll last month, the AAP candidate lost his deposit, polling only 1,900 votes, while the winner from the Congress got 81,000 votes. Earlier in October, the AAP candidate lost his deposit in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, getting only 23,579 votes. The winning Congress candidate polled nearly five lakh.
Juxtapose the Punjab results and the reported Delhi opinion poll, and you know why Kejriwal is suing for peace with the Congress. The man who has thrown everyone other than courtiers out from AAP realises that people have seen through him. Abuse and name-calling being his calling card, he now wants to guard against irrelevance by seeking an alliance with the Congress.
The following is a report from a leading English daily of Bengaluru. Contents need no explanation. Under the headline, “Kumaraswamy worried about Govt. Survival”, it said, “…CM has cancelled all his official appointments and begun holding special homas and pujas… On Firday, priests were seen entering his JP Nagar residence. For the second consecutive day they performed Chandika Parayana which involves chanting of 700 sholaks to keep bad energies away…” Shouldn’t Rahul rush to Bengaluru?