Former President Pranab Mukherjee (File photo)
Nagpur oranges are world famous for its sweetness but revenge when served cold tests the sweetest. The context is of former president Pranab Mukherjee attending and addressing the RSS event as its chief guest in Nagpur on Thursday evening. Was the seed of sweet revenge planted years ago?
When Pranab da accepted the RSS invitation, the Congress was in catch 22 situation, neither could it sternly disapprove his decision nor could it approve of it. Tall leaders in the party were entrusted the task to dissuade him from sharing the dias with Mohan Bhagwat. They even brought in Sharmishtha hoping that the softest corner of Pranab might help change his mind, but Mukherjee was adamant. They feared what if Pranab da said something which would give fresh ammunition to the BJP to target the Congress.
Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha was right in her tweet “….the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain…”. At six in the evening, when national news channels started flashing visuals of Pranab Da standing alongside Mohan Bhagwat, one cannot but accept that Pranab da has come a long way and cannot be written off as yet from the dynamics of India’s politics.
Despite several criticisms from the Congress and Left parties, Pranab da went ahead with his call to be the chief guest at the RSS event but what made him arrive at this decision? What was the message he wanted to drive home? Whom did he want to convey this message? The questions, which answers though seemingly obvious, remain unanswered.
The answers, perhaps, lie beneath the old sheets of the UPA I regime--After the elections, the Congress emerged the single largest party. It was obvious that the Congress and its allies would form the government, but the question was who would take the most coveted post of the prime minister.
The stage was set for Sonia Gandhi to be sworn as PM but the Constitution of India forbade any person of foreign origin to sit at the highest position of public interest, hence she had to forego the thought of it. Sonia Gandhi truly is bestowed with a strong sense of politics. She wanted to be actively involved in all decision of the government and keep a close eye on her party’s ministers, hence a proxy was needed who would only be the face of the government and actual decisions would be taken at the National Advisory Committee whose chairperson was. Gandhi herself, the rest is history.
But it’s not easy to forget, Pranab da was considered as the most suitable person for the PM’s post in the eyes of many fellow party men as well as opposition people and sure he was. Pranab da has a very strong personality and his no nonsense attitude would have made the task all the more tough to deal with. Since Pranab da had the tallest stature in the party, the Congress could not do away with him, the only way was to elevate him to such a position that would not only clear the path for Rahul Gandhi to be the future prime ministerial candidate but at the same time would appear as a bestowment of highest reward to Pranab da. He understood each move of his party, but never uttered a word of dissent. Pranab Mukherjee thus became the 13th President of Independent India in 2012.
Mukherjee’s speech was as in line with the expectation of an ex-President but the message was clear – it’s payback time for the Congress. By his recent amiability with the RSS, he has perhaps given the BJP an opportunity to puncture the Congress’s rattle of secularism and intolerance. Lately, the Congress and other opposition parties were flying high buoyant by their performance in recent bi elections but the latest development would make them rethink their strategy.
It will not come as a surprise if the BJP approaches Mukherjee to be their psychological amicus curiae for life time, after all its often said in politics – there’s no permanent friend or a foe.
Also, it may be recalled that during his presidential days, Mukherjee had hosted RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. So, perhaps, the seeding for this significant meet at the 'Tritiya Varsha Sangh Shiksha Varg' event of the RSS was done years ago.