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Pranab : The Prez-PM

Omita Paul driving force


THE former President, Pranab Mukherjee’s participation in the RSS’s convocation ceremony – Sangh Shiksha Varg: Tritya Varsha – at Nagpur kicked off a political firestorm. He has now emerged as a future Prime Ministerial candidate. It seems like a far-fetched idea, but to paraphrase an old tag line from Nike ads: impossible is nothing in politics.

His daughter, Sharmistha, and son, Abhijit Mukherjee, both of whom are active in the Congress party, have denied that their father is joining politics. But Pranabda doesn’t care much about his children’s political loyalty. He reportedly follows the advice of his former secretary, Omita Paul, whose husband, KK Paul, the former Commissioner of Delhi Police, and now the governor of Uttrakhand, is close to the ailing BJP politician, Arun Jaitely.

Speculations abound the motives of the RSS and Pranab. Observers feel that the RSS has realised that the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah team may not be able to muster the desired majority in the 2019 national elections. Political pundits, who understand the mindset of the Sangh, argue that individuals don’t matter for the RSS. What matters is the organisation’s grip on power. RSS doesn’t wish to lose power, which it got back after a decade. If not Modi, then Pranab is the most suitable face for it. The latter has impeccable credentials and expertise in political management. If the BJP is unable to garner a majority in 2019, Pranab can emerge as an ideal poster boy. The former President has friends in all the political parties. Imagine a scenario in which Sharad Pawar, Udhav Thackeray, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Deve Gowda, Lalu Yadav, Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati, Prakash Singh Badal, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Sitaram Yechury, Chandrasekhar Rao, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitely and Rajnath Singh agree to give a new shape to Indian polity and government. Despite hiccups, they would want to gang up to form the government in 2019.

The beauty of the scenario is that Pranabda knows the Congress well. Resources can prove to be an uphill task.

But hang on: Pranab is the ‘uncle’ of a Mumbai-based industrial house, whose coffers are always open for the patriarch of Indian politics. It’s interesting to note that the Pranab Mukherjee Trust received `180 crore as donation recently.

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