In the twists and turns of the fast moving Presidential race what does the latest move imply? Miss Mamata Banerjee and Mr. Mulayam Singh conferred and issued a joint statement rejecting the two Congress hopefuls, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Mr. Hamid Ansari. Instead they proposed three possible names – Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee and Mr. APJ Abul Kalam. This pushes out Mr. Mukherjee and puts in the PM as front runner.
The name of Mr. Chatterjee suits Miss Banerjee politically. She propitiates her state constituency by naming a leader from Bengal even as she shot down the name of another leader from Bengal. Mr. Chatterjee’s name politically suits Mr. Mulayam Singh by confirming his progressive leanings and happy ties with the Left in the past. The name of Mr. Kalam suits both leaders by pandering to Muslim sentiment to which both must pay lip service. The real googly is delivered through the name of Dr. Manmohan Singh. If opposition parties support his name as they well might, what will the Congress do? Will it oppose the name of its own Prime Minister for the highest post in the country?
Indeed, in the wheels within wheels of the intrigues related to the selection of the Presidential nominee it should not surprise if Miss Banerjee and Mr. Mulayam Singh are fulfilling the wishes of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. At one stroke their statement rejects Mr. Mukherjee. It also vacates the Prime Minister’s post to hasten and facilitate a future dynastic succession. Might not both developments secretly please Mr. Sonia Gandhi? And both eventualities if they occur would not be traced to any initiative by Mrs. Gandhi herself. But is this the end of the story? By no means. There are still many days to go before the final picture emerges.