Friday, June 15, 2012



The remark of Miss Mamata Banerjee that the game is not yet over has given rise to a fresh bout of speculation regarding the possible political scenarios in the wake of her losing the Presidential poll cards as a result of her badly and impulsively playing them.

2.In my view, for Mamata, the Presidential game is over. She will not be able to retrieve her cards. If she was trying to hint that she still has some cards up her sleeve, she was just whistling in the dark in a moment of understandable petulance. Nothing more.

3.Once Dr. Abdul Kalam decides not to be a losing candidate and spoil his brilliant record in India’s contemporary history, nothing can stop Shri Pranab Mukherjee from winning. The only question now is whether Shri P.A.Sangma will withdraw thereby enabling Pranabda to win unopposed or will he remain in the field as a mark of  protest over the non-nomination of a tribal candidate for India’s high office. Even if Sangma remains, Pranabda’s win is certain.

4. My own feeling is that the political managers of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, who have proved adept in managing and overcoming what seemed a major embarrassment, will now focus on placating Sangma either by offering to support Sangma himself or a tribal candidate of mutual choice such as James Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner, as the Vice-President in order to satisfy his tribal pride.

5. The speculation and assessments that with the storm over the Presidential elections blowing over, it will now be smooth-sailing for the Congress and the UPA till 2014 are over-optimistic. Mamata’s Presidential game is practically over. Her pinpricks game will continue. Even before the controversy over the Presidential polls she had repeatedly demonstrated her pinpricks value. That value remains intact and could increase in the coming weeks as a result of political developments in Andhra Pradesh. One understands from  sources in Delhi that the political managers of the Congress are worried over the dangers of  Shri Jagan Mohan Reddy being able to induce large-scale defections of Congress MLAs and MPs following the electoral triumph of his supporters in the bye-elections the results of which were announced on June 15.

6. If that scenario materialises, the political roller coaster will continue. The Union Cabinet headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh is now facing pinpricks from West Bengal. It may start facing pinpricks from AP too.

7.There are various speculations as to what Mamata can do next. One view is that being an emotional person, she may be thawed by Pranabda’s references to her as “almost like my sister” and she will be a mellowed person now so far as the Presidential polls are concerned. She has herself sought to give the impression that she is far from mellowed.

8.Permanent defiance is a defining characteristic of Mamata. The Communists learnt it to their cost in WB. She will be looking for ways of fresh defiance of New Delhi even if she has lost her Presidential cards.

9.Dr.Manmohan Singh is not going to regain his credibility as a result of the feel good atmosphere in the Congress following the favourable developments relating to the Presidential polls. The political crisis that seemed to be looming on this issue has been skilfully overcome by the political managers of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi.

9. The national crisis due to public perceptions of large-scale corruption, collapse of governance and the economic downslide continues. ( 16-6-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )



I have been in receipt of the following comments regarding what I had stated about the role of Jawaharlal Nehru in the non-nomination of Rajaji as the Congress Party’s candidate to be the first President of India.


Your account of Rajaji not making it to the President's post doesn't conform to what really happened.          

Nehru actually wanted Rajaji as President and worked hard in his favour. But a section of the Congress, dominated by North Indian hardliners, strongly resisted the idea touting the ground that Rajaji had worked against the Congress during 1942-47, by actually canvassing for partition and by keeping out of  the Quit India movement. Ultimately Nehru succumbed to the pressure to make Rajendra Prasad the President,. However, to show his solidarity with Rajaji and where his true feelings lay, Nehru accompanied Rajaji to the airport at the time he left for Chennai and saw him off after a warm embrace.

          CS (C.Subramanian) also says in his HAND OF DESTINY that Nehru backed Rajaji but had to yield to critics of Rajaji's past actions.


Thank you very much for this article which is excellent, as usual, and is an appeal for sanity. Whether Sonia Gandhi and her sycophants as well as Mulayam Yadav would heed it during the very short time at their disposal remains to be seen. There is one point, however, from which I must dissent.

Whatever the feeling at that time in "Madras"  in 1950, the fact is that Nehru tried hard and persistently to get Rajaji  elected as India's first president. But the support for Rajendra Prasad within the Congress party was much too strong. Moreover, Rajen Babu had full support of Vallabhbhai Patel. At one stage, under much persuation by Nehru, Prasad thought of withdrawing from the race but Patel taunted him: "What can the baraat do when the dulha (groom) runs away?"

A reader has also drawn my attention to an article on this subject carried by “The New York Times” on June 14,2012, available at

In view of the account from these three excellent sources, my statement that Nehru did not support the candidature of Rajaji for being the first President of India is incorrect. I stand corrected.