Can Pranab Mukherjee be the Next PM of a Non-Congress, Non-BJP Alliance?

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Patnaik and Mamata are Pranab’s left and right hands in the alliance formation, and if Pranab with all his organisational and other skills succeeds in putting together a winning permutation, the combination will form the government mid-2019 with Pranab as PM! Everybody acknowledges that the only political leader with the stature to match that of PM Modi is Pranab Mukherjee. An analysis, for Different Truths.

Pranab for President is less exciting than Pranab all set to address an RSS convocation. The former President will be in Nagpur on June 7. And is fuming. Congress leaders cannot believe it. They can’t digest it. They can’t take it. They won’t take it. Pranab once called the RSS a ‘ snake’, so why is he willing to drink the poison now, does he have an antidote?

The Congress believes Pranab’s out of the loop. He is 82. He got to become President. What more does he want? He’s got to finish a book. Maybe two. Why can’t he sit back and bask? Take the sun in. Feel the on his face. Watch his daughter make a mark in the shadow of Rahul Gandhi. Didn’t he himself find his place in the Congress sun under Indira Gandhi?

All that and more. But Pranab Mukherjee always considered himself a notch above Congress politicians surrounding the . Indira Gandhi reckoned him a hardy Congressman. One worth the trust placed in him. She once acknowledged that a secret confided to Pranab remained a secret; “it stays in his belly!” During the UPA era, it was Pranab Mukherjee who kept the alliance working in spite of Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi and Anna Hazare.

Now a former President, Pranab Mukherjee has “sent out signals that he is not a write-off, as yet”. The feeling is that he has cut himself off from the Congress, and is staging a comeback. At stake is the leadership of a possible non-Congress Third Front and Pranab is, despite his age, ripe to take charge. Come 2019, Pranab’s will be the face of the phalanx standing in the way of the second term to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

‘Citizen Mukherjee’ is what Pranab calls himself on twitter and twitter is proof that he enjoys the support of a number of regional parties, top of which is Mamata Banerjee’s . Talk is that the guiding hand behind the grand opposition alliance to take on the Modi-Shah combine in 2019 will be that of the cool head of Pranab Mukherjee.

Startling to the Congress is the realisation that Pranab is bringing non-Congress and non-BJP leaders on to a single . If the initiative to form such an alliance succeeds, the BJP will still stay relevant but it will be a disaster to the Congress. The grand old party will be wiped out in one fell swoop.

Imagine a grand alliance of non-Congress opposition parties taking on the Congress and the BJP in Amethi and Rai Bareilly. The BJP may win both the seats. But even if it doesn’t, both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia will lose. And no Rahul or Sonia in the Lok Sabha means either Maneka or Varun represents the ‘Gandhi Family’. If that doesn’t tither-bhitter the Congress what will?

The fact of the matter is many Congress leaders believe the party is almost over; that Rahul Gandhi does not have in him the mettle to take the party to lost glory. Some of these leaders think Pranab can do what Rahul could not. It’s not known what Pranab thinks of Rahul but it surely can’t be that of a serious leader. Rahul ‘tearing up the ordinance’ must have left whatever little confidence Pranab had in Rahul in tatters.

Citizen Mukherjee has been meeting a bunch of political leaders at his Delhi residence in recent weeks. The belief is that a meeting at Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Bhubaneswar residence in January this year set the ball rolling. Others at the meeting included HD Devegowda, Sitaram Yechury, and LK Advani.

Naveen Patnaik then tweeted that the five of them had a “wonderful interaction” over “Odia delicacies” such as #PaijaPeetha, #SagaBadi, #DrumStickFry and famed #Chhenpoda.” Everyone knows that the drumstick raises the testosterone, a hormone that does wonders to the aging spirit. It surely seems to have done wonders to Pranab’s spirits.

Apparently, Patnaik and Mamata are Pranab’s left and right hands in the alliance formation, and if Pranab with all his organisational and other skills succeeds in putting together a winning permutation, the combination will form the government mid-2019 with Pranab as PM! Everybody acknowledges that the only political leader with the stature to match that of PM Modi is Pranab Mukherjee.

Also, apparently, Pranab is game! It is no secret that the former President hoped to be named PM by Sonia Gandhi in 2004. But she chose Manmohan Singh and Pranab remained the “Prime Minister India never had”. The feeling now is that Mamata and Patnaik and Chandrababu Naidu, not excluding the Shiv Sena, are all paving the way for a Pranab Mukherjee comeback.

Under the circumstances, an RSS invite to Pranab Mukherjee should be seen in the correct context. BJP leaders on TV are all welcoming the great departure, stating that other Congress leaders, including Gandhi and Sardar Patel, had graced RSS events. But there is unease in the BJP and that unease is evident in the monologues on television channels alleged to be friendly to the BJP.

Pranab is supposed to talk on ‘nationalism’ at the June 7 RSS convocation in Nagpur. But what more in nationalism can Pranab teach to the RSS that the hyper- RSS already doesn’t know practice? Maybe, Pranab will tell the RSS that nationalism will truly score only if a Bengali finally becomes Prime Minister of India. In any case, Pranab for Prime Minister sounds exciting!

Sushil Kutty
©IPA Service

Photos from the Internet

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