Uploaded on June  19, 2007


UPA’s selection of Mrs. Pratibha Patil is no less than a master stroke, reminiscent of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s hat tricks. This indicates that the present Mrs. Gandhi, by being so smart, has started to step into her mother in-law’s shoes.


After so many decades of being used to a Mr. President in the grand Rashtrapati Bhawan we are very likely to reorient ourselves to a Madam President. It is for precisely this new reality in our lives that we are forced to recognise the present Mrs. Gandhi’s dexterity.


Today the irreconcilable differences between the leading partners in UPA, the Congress Party and the Left, have become a matter of the past. After all, who would ever want to be seen opposing a woman candidate for the presidency? Even the NDA will find it difficult to wriggle out of this sticky situation.


As of now, everybody is a woman’s libber, Left Right and Centre. In fact, everybody now likes to suggest that it was his/her idea to empower women by putting a woman in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. However, when we look at it a little closely we come to the rather unromantic conclusion that Mrs. Patil got the nomination more by default than by design.


She was not among half a dozen choices in the earlier phase. No matter whose name the Congress proposed, the Left made sure to veto it. Then it occurred to somebody to try another tack: why can’t we think of a woman for a change? Mr. Bardhan of the CPI is credited with the idea. Mr. Bardhan being one of the very few politicians at the Centre with integrity, the idea floated by him had got to be immensely sensible.


However, the Congress Party is now claiming credit for women’s empowerment. If it is so, why did it not occur to the Congress people before Mr. Bardhan introduced the idea? The Congress Party is happy that one of its own has passed muster with the Left (and, hopefully, with some NDA allies as well).


Beyond that the whole show smacks of cynical manipulation and credit-taking where either no credit belongs, or belongs to someone else. Here, too, this is reminiscent of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s cynical games. In the more recent past the BJP had managed such a master stroke in the election of APJ Abdul Kalam.


The dominant partner in NDA had disarmed all opposition by proposing Mr. Kalam’s name as no political party would like to be seen opposing a Muslim presidential candidate. The BJP knew that if a party tried to find fault with Mr. Kalam it would publicly attack it saying, "Look, these fellows have been calling us anti-Muslim. In fact, not we, but they are anti-Muslim". However, the fact remained that Mr. Kalam was never known to be particularly sensitive to Muslim issues. This was one reason why BJP wanted him. Cynicism, not principles, drives politics. This is true of Mrs. Patli’s nomination as well.

Mohd. Zeyaul Haque

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